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Winds are gusting through Brightmusic Chamber Ensemble



When it comes to musical instruments, the wind section is often overlooked. Brightmusic Chamber Ensemble shines a spotlight on wind instruments in its second concert of the season, Austrian & German Masterworks for Winds.

“I think, historically, there may be a kind of bias of string music in favor of wind music,” said Chad Burrow, co-artistic director of Brightmusic. “If there is a bias for string music, it usually comes from a kind unfamiliarity with the great music that is out there for winds.”

Burrow said that while every instrument has its own unique expressive potential, the color possibilities with mixing the wind sounds are almost limitless. The use of wind and breath also gives them a special vocal quality not achievable on bowed or keyboard instruments.

The two concerts will feature some of the most outstanding compositions for wind ensembles from the last 300 years performed by six musicians: Parthena Owens on flute, Lisa Harvey-Reed on oboe, Chad Burrow on clarinet, Rodney Ackmann on bassoon, Kate Pritchett on horn and Amy I-Lin Cheng on piano.

The performances will begin with two chorale preludes by Bach, “Nun komm der Heiden Heiland” and “Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott.” Burrow said the arrangement utilizes the multiple colors of the wind instruments to imitate the sound of an organ, but it then goes beyond what an organ is capable of, breathing fresh air into these mini-masterpieces.

Next up will be Paul Hindemith’s “Kleine Kammermusik, Op. 24, No. 2,” which Burrow described as a driving, melodic work with catchy motifs that make it one of the composer’s greatest works.

“[Sigfrid] Karg-Elert is quite possibly the best composer that you have never heard of, unless you are an organist,” Burrow said.

Karg-Elert’s work “Jugend, Op. 139a” is a compelling work so varied in its sounds and influences that it defies stylistic categories.

“The work has the craft and complexity of musical lines that we would expect from an early 20th-century German composer,” Burrow said, “yet it is filled with gestures that Romantic composers would have loved and a sense of color that is more akin to [Claude] Debussy than any German composer.”

Meanwhile, Alexander von Zemlinsky’s wind quintet “Humoresque” — which Burrow said is in the vein of Gustav Mahler, but bite-size — comes in at around 5 minutes.

The concert will close with Ludwig van Beethoven’s “Quintet for Piano & Winds, Op. 16.” Modeled on Mozart’s quintet with the same instrumentation, Burrow said Beethoven’s “Quintet” is a jewel in the crown of his early works and has long been a favorite among both performers and audiences.

At the end of the night, Burrow hopes audiences will have a better appreciation for wind instruments and their unique capabilities.

Print headline: Gust of Winds, Often underappreciated by the masses, wind instruments take center stage at a couple of Brightmusic Chamber Ensemble performances.

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