Turning Point Ensemble, Forbidden Music - A Tuba & A GlockenspielMonday, October 28, 2013
My matinee experience on Sunday’s Turning Point Ensemble performance of Forbidden Music was stellar. To begin with I was in the company of a gorgeous soprano, Alexandra Hill, elegantly dressed in black. We arrived early enough so that we could sit front-row-centre and be perhaps only five feet away from conductor Owen Underhill.
The reason for sitting in the front row is that if you are near a smallish ensemble you can listen clearly every individual instrument by just looking at it.
How often can you enjoy the sound and sights of a beautifully new-looking tuba (Peder MacClellan)? Or how about a contrabassoon in which the horn points downward (Ingrid Chiang wearing killer fishnets), two trombones, muted and unmuted (Jeremy Berkman and Sharman King on the awesome bass trombone), an impressive bass clarinet (Caroline Gauther, who in spite of wearing black pants I was able to discern some elaborate filigreed black stockings) and all this and much more such as…Adrián Verdejo on guitar and banjo sporting facial hair that made him resemble a cross between d’Artgnan and Paganini while nearby, Jane Hayes and her wonderful hair did not manage, this time, to demolish her piano?
It is interesting to point out that many musicians are not content to rest on their laurels, of playing the usual, but are part of the Turning Point Ensemble because they feel they must push the limits of the contemporary repertoires. There is Marc Destrubé on violin who has been fronting the Microcosmos String Quartet that is playing Benjamin Britten and Bella Bartok quartets in exquisitely performed concerts in beautiful Lower Mainland homes. The couple, Mary Sokol Brown,violin, David Brown, bass, and cello player Ari Barnes could very well find themselves busy with their performances for the VSO but deem it personally necessary to play for the Turning Point Ensemble.
In short all these stellar musicians including David Owen on oboe and François Houle on clarinet combine to make an extremely tight and virtuoso ensemble that can one minute make a largish ensemble as they did for Kurt Weill’s Little Threepenny Music (1928) or can pare down to a four in Pavel Hass’s (1899-1944, was gassed in Auschwitz) Wind Quintet op. 10 (1929).
While our detailed program notes informed us that composer Erwin Schulhoff (1894-1942), the Ensemble played his Concerto for String Quartet and Wind Orchestra (193) had mastered and incorporated jazz in his compositions, I noted that Hass, sounded wonderfully Jewish (Klezmer-like) and I could have sworn that many of the notes in the second movement of his Quintet, Preghiera: Misterioso e triste were extremely blue!
But it was the first piece of the afternoon, Paul Hindemith’s (1895-1963) Chambermusic Nr1 composed when he was 25 that was the pleasant shocker. The dissonance may have been there. It was, but seeing (and hearing) it played is much different and accessible to being exposed to it in a living room stereo or on the radio. And then there was that beautifully melodic third part Quartet – very slow and with feeling, in which François Houle, clarinet, Elizabeth Mee, bassoon, Brenda Fedoruk, flute and Martin Fisk on glockenspiel went back and forth in what seemed to me a sonic heaven.
The only sad note for me was the realization that few if any who were not there at the concert might ever have the chance of listening to those pieces, banned by Hitler and Company, this 21st century. It is a pity that such beautiful music of that last 20th has been relegated to an obscurity as cruel as Hitler’s.
More Turning Point Ensemble
More Turning Point Ensemble