Zephyr Wind Quintet
Chamber Music New Zealand
Speirs Centre, yesterday
Reviewed by Stephen Fisher.
Heating problems meant that this concert was transferred from the auditorium to one of the large practice rooms at the Speirs Centre, a happy decision no doubt for the quintet, whose instruments need warmth, but also for the audience who were treated to an intimate concert of superb music in a space almost made for chamber music in its "classical" sense.
The Zephyr Wind Quintet consists of musicians who are largely past or present section principals in the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, including Bridget Douglas (flute), Robert Orr (oboe), Philip Green (clarinet), Robert Weeks (bassoon) and Ed Allen on the French horn.
This superb lineup of musicians presented masterpieces that were all written during the 20th century when the wind quintet, as a formal group, began to come into its own.
The programme featured an enormous variety of works by Francaix, Hindemith, Harbison, Ibert and New Zealander Ken Wilson.
Also on the programme was a work for solo horn by Ross Harris.
The programme was beautifully chosen, revealing the enormous range of tonal colour of these instruments, either on their own or in ensemble.
This outstanding concert by the quintet was characterised by a beautiful balance between players who were completely comfortable in performance, their obvious joy in working with each other - infectious for all - while ensuring amazing ensemble awareness.
Virtuosic technical brilliance, an honest empathy for the intention of each composer and a thorough exploration of the expressive potential of each work ensured another outstanding highlight in the Chamber New Zealand concert calendar.
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