The Capitol Woodwind's Fresh Gems
Tuesday, May 13, 2008; Page C03

If you're interested in surprising little adventures down rarely trod musical byways, it's always worthwhile to see what the Capitol Woodwind Quintet is up to. They've proved themselves adept at finding lyrical, smile-inducing gems of 20th-century music, and playing them with brainy wit. And on Sunday at Temple Micah they did it again, presenting several works from the last century that were both intellectually satisfying and gorgeous to the ears.

Take "Sciarada Spagnuola," a 1963 work by the Dutch composer Jurriaan Andriessen that opened the concert. "I think I had that for dinner last night," joked one audience member, and in fact this lilting work -- a suite of dance movements that echoes polyphonic Renaissance music -- proved to be a fine appetizer to the rest of the program. The quintet displayed both virtuosity and near-telepathic communication (the group's played together for three decades) in Antonin Reicha's 1817 Quintet in G, Op. 88, No. 3, dispatching it with an elegant lightness that made it seem completely fresh.

But the most interesting fare of the evening came after intermission. The Swedish composer Lars-Erik Larsson only wrote one wind quintet, but it's a doozy: the "Quattro Tempi," Op. 55 from 1968. The title refers to the four seasons, and the quintet turned in an evocative, sometimes even magical, account -- a lush and tranquil summer turned into a quickening scramble as fall approached, then sank into the somber mysteries of winter before spring arrived, explosive with life.

The program closed with Jean-Michel Damase's "Dix-Sept Variations," Op. 22, a work from 1952 that embodies French charm itself. Playful, inventive and unfailingly melodic, it wears its harmonic complexities lightly and with considerable style, and received a superb performance from this fine ensemble.

-- Stephen Brookes








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