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OCP: Bax, Purcell, Bartok, Thomson, Stravinsky, Miyagi

Arnold Bax: Elegaic Trio
Purcell: Three Fantasias
Purcell: If Music Be the Food of Love
Purcell: Fantasia on One Note
Bartok: Two Rondos on Folksongs
Virgil Thomson: Four Songs to Poems of Thomas Campion (1953)
Stravinsky: Three Songs from William Shakespeare (1953)
Michio Miyagi: Haru no umi

Cheryl Bensman Rowe, soprano
Leyla Sanyer, violin
Katrin Talbot, viola
Warren Downs, cello
Tim Gilson, double bass
Marilyn Chohaney, flute
Jennifer Morgan, oboe
Nancy Mackenzie, clarinet
Anne Aley, horn
Mary Ann Harr, harp


The Oakwood Chamber Players' core group instrumentation, together with available guest musicians, somtimes results in programming that is a bit of a jumble. But individual works, whether arrangements or not, are often quite interesting.

An audience of just under 100 gathered at the First Unitarian Society Meeting House on a bright fall Sunday afternoon to hear a program that kept guest artists Cheryl Bensman Rowe (soprano) and Mary Ann Harr (harp) quite busy. Songs by Virgil Thomson (scored for voice, clarinet, viola and harp) and Igor Stravinsky (voice, flute, clarinet, viola, harp) were the most rewarding part of the effort.

The Thomson songs were new to me. They are wonderfully well written, with soaring vocal lines and solid instrumental support. Rowe's voice is not large, nor is it even across its whole range, but she uses it very musically, with a clear presentation of the texts. The Stravinsky songs come from the period in his life when he was writing atonal music, but with such skill that accessibility is not a serious problem, that is, he uses the voice lyrically rather than instrumentally. It also seemed to me that the instrumental playing was on a higher level in the songs than elsewhere on the program.

Madison Music Review, September, 2001
Copyright 2001 Jess Anderson

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