This past September, the Brightmusic Society of Oklahoma opened their 10th anniversary season with a program they titled Bright Winds, celebrating the history of chamber music writing for wind instruments. Offered in duo venues on Monday, September 17th at All Souls' Episcopal Church in Oklahoma City, and on Tuesday, September 18th at St. Paul's Episcopal Cathedral, the concert opened with the Quartet for Winds by Jean Françaix. His works, characterized by fine craft, ebullience, charm and consistent wit were also, as in the case of the Quartet, virtuosic and emblematic of the idiomatic French handling of wind instruments.
Maurice Ravel’s six movement suite Le tombeau de Couperin, written in 1917 as a work for piano paying homage to Couperin’s creative spirit as well as honoring six friends who had died during World War I, was later partially orchestrated by the composer. In that four movement version can be found some of the most rewarding and famous wind parts in the 20th century repertory. Brightmusic wind players offer an arrangement of the piece for Wind Quintet made by Danish composer Hans Abrahamsen.
Ludwig van Beethoven learned a great deal about wind ensemble music through his employment at the court of Elector Maximilian Franz, where music for winds was cultivated. The Opus 103 Wind Octet dates from his years in Bonn and was likely played by musicians at the court in 1792. A lively and gregarious work, it gives the wind players numerous opportunities for virtuoso display.
In 1782 in Vienna, as Mozart completed a wind serenade, the form popular as outdoor entertainment in Europe during the 18th century, his opera The Abduction from the Seraglio K.375 was being premiered. Aspects of the opera can be heard in his 4 movement Serenade in C Minor, K388 but also, like the Beethoven Octet, takes on the unusual scope and tone of a miniature symphony.
The American-Armenian composer Alan Hovhaness wrote highly communicative and often contemplative music, which sought musical reconciliation between the East and Western cultures. Often inspired by landscape, Armenian folk and Eastern musical traditions, his works often carry deeply spiritual or mystical themes. His piano trio Lake Samish written in 1989 for the Verdehr trio is a highly characteristic five movement work of contrasts, the name inspired by his visits to the peaceful lake among wooded hills south of Bellingham, Washington. To round out today’s program, the work is performed by University of Central Oklahoma clarinetist Dawn-Marie Lindblade, violinist Hong Zhu and pianist Sallie Pollack from a performance given on UCO's Faculty Artist Concert Series on Tuesday, August 28th.
Listen Saturday, June 29, at 8:00 pm for this special Performance Oklahoma program.