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MUSIC REVIEW : DORIAN QUINTET, NOJIMA GIVE RECITAL AT CALTECH

Thrills were not the order of the afternoon on Sunday when the New York-based Dorian Wind Quintet appeared at Beckman Auditorium, Caltech, for the second of this season’s Coleman concerts.

Technically unflappable artists they may be, but surely capable of more spirited performances than were heard on this occasion. But then the players--Elizabeth Mann, flute; Gerard Reuter, oboe; Jerry Kirkbride, clarinet; Jane Taylor, bassoon; David Jolley, horn--had the program against them.

First came a transcription for winds, by one Mordecai Rechtman, of J.S. Bach’s transcription for organ solo of a Vivaldi concerto for two violins. Rechtman’s one notable accomplishment was his stylish writing for oboe (handsomely played by Reuter), the perfect surrogate for Vivaldi’s first violin. Otherwise, transcription and performance proved too silken to suggest the fierce Vivaldian (or Bachian) energy.

The nominal centerpiece of the program was the West Coast premiere of American composer George Perle’s Wind Quintet No. 4, a Pulitzer Prize-winner in 1986--hardly, on present evidence, “The Year of Stiffest Competition.” It is a reasonably amiable piece of academic serialism, resolutely refusing to make waves in three movements that bustle and one, a tepidly lyrical “Pastorale,” that does not.

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Finally, pianist Minoru Nojima joined the Dorians (minus flute) in Mozart’s splendid Quintet in E flat, K. 452: a low-key, hyper-polished interpretation, so intent on not rousing the audience from its post-Perle, post-intermission torpor that one barely noticed the music at all.


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