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Wind Power: No Strings Attached

The BCP show that sometimes the strings can stay home

The Buffalo Chamber Players are on a roll. Their season opener, a few weeks ago, drew the largest crowd in the group’s four-year history. The overflow, standing-room-only crowd at that multi-media event heard a memorable performance of Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time and also experienced stunningly vivid projections of eight paintings created by the well known Buffalo artist Catherine Parker, inspired by Messiaen’s masterpiece.

Hard on the heels of that successful event, the next concert in the BCP series at the Buffalo Seminary on Bidwell Parkway, on Wednesday, November 3, at 7:30pm, is being billed as Wind Power. Janz Castelo, artistic director of the Buffalo Chamber Players and a violist with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, explains the title: “There are many venues to hear chamber music for strings in Western New York, so we wanted to offer our audience a unique opportunity to hear something different. Though I am a string player, I feel the musical colors and textures that wind chamber groups are capable of achieving are richer and more diverse than those of the more homogenized string ensembles.”

Castelo has a valid point. The Buffalo Chamber Music Society, the second oldest chamber music society in America, is now in its 87th season, and it has consistently brought the very finest chamber music ensembles, both from this country and from around the world, to its Tuesday night concert series in the Mary Seaton Room of Kleinhans Music Hall. The overwhelming majority of the groups that have appeared in that prestigious series have been string ensembles of one kind or another, so there is indeed a place on the local chamber music scene for an organization, like the Buffalo Chamber Players, which occasionally explores other aspects of the rich chamber music repertoire. The Wind Power program mixes familiar works by Mozart and Samuel Barber with a lesser known work by Beethoven and an unknown work by Frigyes Hidas.

Mozart composed his Serenade No. 12 for Winds in C Minor, K. 388 in July 1782. The composer wrote relatively few works in minor keys, usually reserving their use for works in more “serious” genres such as the concerto, the symphony, or the string quartet. Works composed in the serenade form, especially those for wind band, traditionally were played outdoors, at weddings or other ceremonial occasions, almost serving as a kind of background music. After Mozart moved to Vienna in 1781, he composed his last three serenades, including the contrapuntally complex Serenade No. 12, which went far beyond the usual boundaries of the genre. The new Austrian emperor, Joseph II, had formed his own wind band in 1782, consisting of eight players, rather than the more usual six players. Mozart’s Viennese serenades are also scored for eight players, and it is possible that the composer’s intent in writing the pieces was to gain favor at the imperial court. The work will be performed by Catherine Estes and Alison Chung, oboes; Andrew Seigel and Katherine Jarvis, clarinets; Glenn Einschlag and Ellen Barnum, bassoons; and Daniel Kerdelewicz and Jay Matthews, French horns.

Ludwig van Beethoven’s Trio for 2 Oboes and English Horn, Op. 87 bears a relatively high opus number, but the original version of the work was composed in 1794, shortly after the young composer moved to Bonn. For financial reasons, Beethoven approved an arrangement of the work for two violins and viola by another composer in 1806, resulting in its publication with an opus number close to that of the Seventh Symphony, Op. 92, of 1811. The work was actually composed before Beethoven’s first published work, the 1795 Opus 1 piano trios. The agreeable melodic style of the work, which recalls the lighter manner of Mozart’s early serenades, made it ideal for performance by the growing number of skilled, amateur musicians in Vienna. Oboists Chung and Estes will perform the piece along with Anna Mattix on English horn.

The centennial of the birth of American composer Samuel Barber (1910-1981) has been largely overshadowed by this year’s bicentennial celebrations of the births of Chopin and Schumann, so an opportunity to hear a live performance of Samuel Barber’s Summer Music, Op. 31 for wind quintet is very welcome. Composed in 1956, Summer Music evokes the lost world of the composer’s youth, sharing similarities with the mood evoked in his earlier work, Knoxville: Summer of 1915 (1947). The essentially lyrical, one-movement Summer Music, which is marked “slow and indolent” by the composer, captures the languid feeling of timelessness of a summer day, and the work has become a favorite piece of wind quintets everywhere. Summer Music will be performed by Betsy Reeds, flute; Mattix, oboe; Seigel, clarinet; Einschalg, bassoon; and Kerdelewicz, French horn.

The music of Hungarian composer Frigyes Hidas (1928-2007) is almost unknown in this country. The prolific composer served as director of the National Theater in Budapest from 1951 to 1966, while composing in virtually every genre. Trombonists Jonathan Lombardo, Timothy Smith and Jeffrey Dee will perform Hidas’ Alteba Trio for alto, tenor, and bass trombone.

Tickets: are $15, $5 for students. For more information, visit

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