MIT Wind Ensemble
Great Music, Great InterpretationsBy Bogdan Fedeles
MIT Wind Ensemble
Conducted by Frederick Harris
May 3, 8:00 p.m.
The MIT Wind Ensemble performed their season’s second concert last Friday. Conductor Frederick Harris led the ensemble through the performance of a program, which focused mostly on modern music, including Concertino for Violin and Chamber Winds by MIT professor of music and theater arts Peter Child.
Gustav Holst’s Second Suite in F, op28, no.2, follows the first suite in style, orchestration, and wit. The MIT Wind Ensemble’s last concert concluded with Holst’s first suite, and they picked up right where they ended, delivering an even more convincing performance of Holst’s work. The excellent ensemble work and balance contributed significantly to the liveliness of the performance. Despite minor glitches in intonation, Second Suite emerged very melodious in the lyrical parts and very intense and fiery in the more agitated movements.
Gunther Schuller’s work Song and Dance is a beautiful synthesis work, combining two unrelated movements in a strong antithesis. The first section, “Quiet Music,” refers to the song part of the title, aiming to create a very peaceful, yet puzzling atmosphere. The violin solo’s lyrical episodes alternate gracefully with the more dissonant, agitated ensemble tutti. Young-Nam Kim delivered a splendid performance, showing a great sensitivity and very good musical sense. His crystal clear intonation and carefully transitioned dynamics conveyed intense lyricism to the piece. The wind ensemble showed brilliance especially in the second section, “Fiddle Music,” where they rose up to the high demands of Schuller’s work. Though the balance was fairly good overall, the violin virtuoso passages were almost inaudible during some of the very loud passages. Rhythmically, the ensemble sustained the piece very well, conveying the composer’s indication of dance-like music.
Music professor Peter Child intended his Concertino for Violin and Chamber Winds as a companion piece to Schuller’s Song and Dance. Yet, as Child explained in the pre-concert discussion, the concertino, which is dedicated to the ensemble and Young-Nam Kim, is very different “in temperament” from Schuller’s work, being “friendly in tone” and concise. The conciseness is perhaps due to the short time in which this piece was written (Child called this work as “written under pressure”). Nevertheless, the piece was a very enjoyable experience, making the most out of the rather modest wind ensemble required (only nine players). Although following a concerto scheme, the concertino provides opportunities for the instruments in the ensemble to step forward in short solo passages. The players from the ensemble who performed this piece showed their confident intonation and musicality while accompanying Young-Nam Kim’s brilliant violin solos, especially in the final movement. Child called the concluding movement “an artistic response to the minimalist and post-minimalist music” because of the use of a very short motif that is repeated. This concluding movement contained better rhythmic coherence and more conservative harmonic approaches than the other movements. Young-Nam Kim’s sparks of virtuosity on the violin added brilliance to the whole minimalist atmosphere.
The concert was concluded with Paul Hindemith’s Symphony in Bflat, a representative work in the wind ensemble repertoire. The performance was well rounded, conveying Hindemith’s preference for counterpoint and highlighting the diversity of the thematic material that forms each counterpointed phrase. The intonation allowed the many dissonant chords to sound very graceful. However, the dynamic contrast was at times unconvincing. The last movement was particularly enjoyable, when the theme of the fugue was very clear in each restatement and denoted a good balance and ensemble work.
The MIT Wind Ensemble, skillfully directed by Frederick Harris, showed once more its proficiency and musical taste, delivering a beautifully well-rounded concert.