Issue #69

Last Update October 31, 2010

Arts NYCC Carter Concert by David Katz January 2, 2009   On December 6, the New York Composers Circle (NYCC), New York's premiere organization for composers of contemporary concert music, presented a concert in honor of Elliot Carter's 100th birthday. (See our November preview of this concert.) Mr. Carter, an Honorary Composer Member of NYCC, agreed to allow the performance of his Woodwind Quintet as part of the celebration. The Quintet, written in 1948, is representative of his early style, a style which he had outgrown by the time he received his first Pulitzer Ptize in 1960. Along with the Carter piece, the NYCC concert featured woodwind compositions by Eugene Marlow, Margaret Fairlie-Kennedy, Cesar Vuksic, Joseph Pehrson, Fedor Kabalin and Donald Hagar, all of whom are Composing Members, and all of whom have become known for the quality of their composition.

The evening opened with Dr. Marlow's "Playtime", a series of seven short movements representing young British children at play, in which each child is characterized by a specific instrument (flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon and piano). The melodic nature of this suite draws on Dr. Marlow's deep interest in classical, jazz and popular musical ideas.

Donald Hagar's "Little Suite for Wind Quintet" is arranged as a kind of Baroque dance suite derived from songs, piano and choral peices. Like "Playtime", it is melodically pleasing.

Margaret Fairlie-Kennedy's "Woodwind Quintet" uses a 12 tone row in two of its movements; the third movement is based on the interval of a major second. Though less accessible and euphonious than Dr. Marlow's and Mr. Hagar's works, it provides a great deal of intellectual interest within a setting that stretches the capabilities of the performers.

Cesar Vuksic's "Dialogues" was programmatic in nature, and made effective use of flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon and French Horn as interrelating voices setting emotional tone.

Fedor Kabalin's "Divertimento for Wind Septet" and Joseph Pehrson's "Windjammer" for woodwind quintet, while completely different in feeling, both allude to folk tunes in central passages. Mr. Kabalin's piece makes reference to his Chilean background, while Mr. Pehrson's piece is a more homophonic departure from his usual interest in microtonality and electronic music.

These diverse works made a fitting frame for the final piece of the evening, Mr. Carter's quintet. The concert as a whole displayed the range, reach and compositional imagination of the talented composers of NYCC, and the skill of the performers selected to present these works to an enthusiastic audience. The performers included Svjetlana Kabalin, flute; Alexandra Knoll, oboe; Amy Zoloto, clarinet; Erik Holtje, bassoon; Michael Atkinson and David Byrd-Marrow, horn; Donald Batchelder, trumpet; and Nataliya Medvedovskaya and Cesar Vuksic, piano.

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