The political winds were blowing this last Friday. However we read them, January 20, 2017 will likely represent far more than the normal Friday, and happy anticipation in the work week’s end. TGIF at the Tryon Fine Arts Center brought other winds, the playing of which provided an exquisite forgetfulness. Against a deep blue curtain, the playing of an accomplished five dispelled the hurdy gurdy of noisy weeks and a bizarre circus leading up to the 56th variation of inaugural day.
It was an entrancing evening. Woodwind quintet playing at its most entertaining, we should say. Depth and delight, easy movement and expression that brought us into a vortex of artistry we knew to be of a
high order. It was Christopher Vaneman on flute, Kelly Vaneman on oboe, Karen Hill on clarinet, Frank Watson on bassoon, and Anneka Zuehlke on horn…the cream of area talent.
Early on, accompanied by engaging updates from the flutist and his wife on oboe, we followed a vision of growing excellence. The first two works were Jaques Ibert’s “Trois pieces breve” and Anton Reicha’s “Wind Quintet in E Flat, op. 88, no 2., war horses of the literature, really, but unveiling exceptional clarity.
It was the high, lilting motif by the horn in Paquito D’Rivera’s “Vals Venezoplano” descending seamlessly into the ensemble’s blend that captured our awareness the Petrie Winds were something really special. This was the first number of “Aires Tropicales,” dances combining Latin idioms and jazz. In “Habanera”, the second number, clarinet, oboe and bassoon alone convincingly articulated Latin emotion in a dirge, or pensive study. Bringing back the lead voice of the flute, “Contradenza” introduced a ripping dialogue, giving jazz over to musicians in all quarters sharing a striking rhythmic fraternity. Quite exceptional!
Then, there was “Aria and Quodlibet” by Arne Running an artist who died this past year. The “Aria” was a work of broad sentiment and noble depiction. But following it, the “Quodlibet”, a cartoon patchwork of 31 musical references in a framework of “Entrance of the Gladiators” was an absurdly contrived but exhilarating antithesis, which, by perhaps an act of genius, the quintet determined they should play twice. It was also an act of supreme daring…which they executed, by my account, at least, probably flawlessly. That this was art’s reflection of reality on this new day we as a nation had determined for ourselves seems a good explanation.
“Three Shanties” by Malcom Arnold ended the evening. They were charming. And I expect that’s where we’ll end up.