Art’s Corner: Harp recital

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The Idyllwild Bassoon Ensemble preforms “Le Phoenix” Friday night at Stephens Recital Hall at Idyllwild Arts during the Student Chamber Music Recital. Photo by Jenny Kirchner

The Idyllwild Bassoon Ensemble preforms “Le Phoenix” Friday night at Stephens Recital Hall at Idyllwild Arts during the Student Chamber Music Recital. Photo by Jenny Kirchner

It may have been an oversight of some sort in the hours following Friday’s thunderstorm activity in the area, causing the ostensibly responsible parties to reroute the schedule of both chamber concerts from Stephens Hall on the Idyllwild Arts campus that evening — scheduling does get a bit crowded as well as confused — but the two events did occur, if not exactly as planned, in the spacious confines of the IAF Theatre that night, and students, faculty and other audience members (a goodly number in any case) were more than amply rewarded for their presence.

Such electrical events could hardly have confounded the members of the harp, wind and brass ensembles; the performances being so uniformly exemplary in execution as evidenced by this particular listener. The first presentation (dubbed “Harp Recital” upon the program) turned out to be a display of the talent of harpist Emma Dyson, as well as the pedagogy of IA faculty member Allison Allport, in various solo and ensemble pieces. In particular, the “C Minor Fantasy” of Louis Spohr provided the widest range of her abilities (foremost being Dyson’s right-handed muting technique), and in the Debussy “Danse Sacree” (with piano accompaniment by Pepi Pilibossian) and the Broughton “Toccata” for two harps and mallet instruments (with Robin Sharp’s help on marimba, xylophone and electronic keyboard, as well as Allport’s able assistance), Dyson proved her training and technical skills over again. This is not to belittle the two other student performers; both Xochitl Dercyz and Sebastian Ko were able to project their talents as well in pieces by Grandjany and Handel; and in the initial display of harp sonorities for all three student players in a medley of operatic themes by Puccini.

No sooner was the stage cleared of the harp strings and percussion than a contingent of more than 20 brass and woodwind players marched on the scene to deliver their version of a popular Lady Gaga riff (in a quasi-classical fugal arrangement). Soon after this brass incursion, a more sedately classical succession of sounds ensued: three movements of the Beethoven “Opus 87 Trio” were essayed by three different combinations of two oboes and English horn players who delivered their talents more than adequately in spite of changes in the involved timbres. Johann Sebastian Bach fared a little less well with an arrangement for “oboe choir” (with additional English horn and bassoon players) of the finale of his “Italian Concerto;” the tampering with the original keyboard timbres was somewhat of an obstacle, however bravely essayed by the respective woodwind players.

Virtually all of the remaining numbers provided examples of firm ensemble playing, whether from flute, French horn and/or trombone groupings. One could have wished for better choices of material for such displays (American folk songs and further “pop” intrusions such as the “Pirates of the Caribbean” suite of themes), but each ensemble, large or small, acquitted itself very well, and only whetted this listener’s audio appetite for greater endeavors by the same players later in the summer session, in orchestral and/or symphonic band situations, where the usual dearth of wind and brass (as evidenced in prior sessions where they had to be brought in from off the Hill to fill out the youth orchestra) was clearly acted upon through active participation of one sort or another.

In short, if not in length, an auspicious boding for the remainder of the summer, with orchestral and band offerings to come in the next few weeks — but not to forget the upcoming chamber concerts from the Pacific Trio and friends.

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