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OCP: Gliere, Etler, Ewazen, Faure

Gliere: Suite for Violin and Double Bass
Alvin Etler: Quartet
Eric Ewazen: Roaring Fork
Gabriel Fauré: Piano Quartet in C Minor, Op. 15

Leyla Sanyer, violin
Katrin Talbot, viola
Warren Downs, cello
Carl Davick, double bass
Marilyn Chohaney, flute
Jennifer Morgan, oboe
Nancy Mackenzie, clarinet
Kenneth Moses, bassoon
Anne Aley, horn
Frances Karp, piano


The Oakwood Chamber Players presented a fairly interesting program of mostly not well known works to a surprisingly small audience (about 70) Friday evening. The start was a bit on the rocky side, a Suite for Violin and Double Bass by Reinhold Gliere. The score, if somewhat prosaic, offered a couple of attractve movements, but the problems derived mainly from the celloistic nature of the lower part, which was really not suitable stylistically for the heavier sound and less flexible articulation of the bass. Violinist Leyla Sanyer seemed well prepared, but bassist Carl Davick needed more rehearsal, especially in matters of intonation.

Alvin Etler's Quartet for oboe, clarinet, viola and bassoon (Jennifer Morgan, Nancy Mackenzie, Katrin Talbot and Kenneth Moses) fared much better, its unusual instrumentation providing arresting sonorities that worked well in the framework of four movements of contrasting tempo and character. The playing was all on a high level, with standout subtleties coming from Mackenzie and Moses.

Entirely accessible tonal scoring proved to be a strength in Eric Ewazen's neo-Romantic Roaring Fork, scored for flute (Marilyn Chohaney), oboe (Morgan), clarinet (Mackenzie), horn (Anne Aley) and bassoon (Moses). The three movements splendidly depict three scenic delights along the Roaring Fork River near Aspen, Colorado. Having been to all the places mentioned, Maroon Creek, Snowmass Lake and Buckskin Pass, I can attest the strongly evocative nature of this work, which was by turns lyrical, expansive, playful and introspective. The interplay of moods, as well as the technical demands of the scoring, made this the evening's most rewarding offering, I thought.

The program concluded with Gabriel Fauré's Quartet in C Minor, Op. 15 for piano and strings. Joining pianist Frances Karp were violinist Sanyer, violist Talbot, and cellist Warren Downs. Perhaps it was the room acoustic or the mediocre quality of the particular piano, but for me the performance never quite gelled as chamber music, instead remaining an ensemble of four distinct instruments.

Though small in numbers, the audience applauded all the performances with enthusiasm.

Isthmus, April, 1999
Copyright 1999 Jess Anderson

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