I Solisti d'Oneco performed "The Old, The New, The In-Between"

The Sarasota Music Club hosted the woodwind quintet I Solisti d’Oneco at its monthly concert on November 20. The group performed a wide variety of music, dating from the 18th century Sonata in B flat by Mozart to a piece written in 2015 by Peter Tavalin.

Two notables of the concert were the presence of the composer, Peter Tavalin, who explained his motivation for writing “Quintet – Forward and Back,” and Melanie Heggs, the group’s clarinet player, who had been a recipient of a Sarasota Music Club scholarship. Other members of the group include: Dale Jensen – Flute, Michelle Nicollette – Oboe, John Stinespring – Bassoon, and Gary Reinstrom – Horn.

The leader of the group, Dale Jensen, provided insightful, often humorous and educational commentary on each of the pieces the group played. For example, the Sonata in B flat by Mozart was originally written for piano four hands. Dale drolly explained that there were no four-handed piano players living in the area, so the group would perform the piece as transcribed for woodwind quintet. He then went on to explain how Mozart could not have written for woodwind quintet, as many of the instruments were not yet invented or were in their infancy when Mozart lived. The group then proceeded to capture the audience with a virtuosic rendition of Mozart’s music. I have long wanted to hear this group, and I was certainly not disappointed.

While the Mozart was the oldest piece of music played this day, “Quintet- Forward and Back” was the newest. Written by Peter Tavalin in 2015, the piece was a lovely patchwork quilt of styles. It began with decidedly 20th century melodies and harmonic structure, but was woven together with much more recognizable melodic styles from earlier periods. The composer was introduced after the piece was played and was asked about his motivation for writing the work. He explained that he had played in a woodwind quintet in high school in New York and had always wanted to write a piece for these instruments. He also talked about the juxtaposition of the new and old in the piece. Dale Jensen then told the audience that the group was going to play the piece again so the audience would have a chance to listen with different ears now that the composer had illuminated the work with his commentary. It was an opportunity to more fully appreciate the beauty and form hidden in a new work, which I am quite sure no one in the audience save the composer had heard before.

The concert continued with a whimsical treatment of “Happy Birthday” in the styles of Strauss, Joplin, Stravinsky, and Sousa. This was followed by a swing version of “Dry Bones,” during which Dale invited any members of the audience who felt so inclined to “come on up and dance.” There were no takers.

The concluding piece was “Suite, Op 37” by Charles Eduard Lefebvre. It is an absolutely lovely work that really showed off the virtuosity and musicality of this group of performers.

Thanks to Barbara Roth Donaldson for booking another stellar group of local musicians. There is no better value in town than the monthly concerts provided by the Sarasota Music Club. Great Music and you get coffee and some of the best pastries I have ever eaten thrown into the mix.

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