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From Strength to Strength

Another day at the West Cork Chamber Music Festival,


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Day four -- Monday 2 July 2007

As a former horn player (well, student, at least) it's hardly surprising that I love wind ensembles. Happily for me and other like-minded folk, there are several programs featuring winds here at Bantry. Today's Coffee Concert at noon in the Rose Drawing Room of Bantry House featured a quintet of the musicians that form the Hafner Wind Ensemble. Two works -- a Mozart work originally written for wind ensemble, but which works excellently well in this more recent incarnation -- and the famous Nielsen Wind Quintet.

Sometimes a bit of tinkering works wonders, and in this case, it is an arrangement of Mozart's work by the Israeli bassoonist Mordecai Rechtman. The Hafners played it as though written that way just for them. They excel in long lyrical lines, almost as though they're actually singing. When playing together, they have a deep rich, chocolate sort of sound, very robust. Yet they are light and graceful when required, especially in solo passages, which were all gorgeously played. Their careful attention to dynamics heightens the intensity of the music wonderfully well.

The Nielsen Quintet is also a slight misnomer, requiring as it does the addition of a sixth instrument -- the English horn. Also, the bassoonist must add an extension to the instrument in order to reach the lowest note required by the composer, but not part of the standard bassoon. Still, the work held no terrors for the Hafners, although at times it did sound rather like a discussion between friends that somehow managed to get slightly out of hand. On purpose, I should add. It soon settles down into an amicable conversation, however. It's an entirely charming work that needs to be heard more often.

From Bantry House I then made my way into town, and the Parish Hall of St Brendan's Church for the Town Concert. These daily presentations are of a smaller scale, and generally feature younger, or emerging artists in a less formal situation. This recital featured Maria Ryan, violin and Patricia Goggin, flute, in separate works, but both artists benefited from the sensitive collaborative piano of Gabriela Mayer. All three are from the Cork School of Music, where Ms Mayer is Head of the Department of Keyboard Studies. Based on their respective performances, I suspect it won't be long before these young women move up to the status of featured artists at the Festival.

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Copyright © 4 July 2007 Kelly Ferjutz, Bantry, Ireland


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