The Queer Urban Orchestra’s (QUO) diverse chamber music concert, “QUOtets XIII,” on March 30 at the Church of the Holy Apostles, in Chelsea, showed off the considerable talents of a number of individual QUO players, with playing areas for the selections situated in three different parts of the hall.
The first movement Allegro of Antonio Vivaldi’s double trumpet concerto, the Concerto in C Major for Two Trumpets, RV 537, featured the brilliant sound of the musicians’ instruments, in the fanfare and fugues of the Baroque concerto, resonating throughout the church. The trumpeters were Ron Nahass and QUO Artistic Director Julie Desbordes and Christian Smythe was at the piano.
The first movement Allegro Moderato of Johann Nepomuk Hummel’s String Trio, for two violas and cello, in G Major, S. 46, proved lyrical, with a late-Classical/early-Romantic sound, as rendered by violists William Jones and Nicholas Singletary and cellist Todd Porter.
Edward Elgar’s “Salute d’amour” (Love’s Greeting), Opus 12, contributed by cellist Bjorn Berkhout, with Andrew Berman at the piano, became a lush serenade, a late-Romantic love song without words, which one could not only imagine sung, but also danced.
Josef Bohuslav Foerster was represented by his Quintet in D Major for Winds, contemplative and nocturne-like, then bustling and ebullient, with something of a Wagnerian/Straussian sound, as performed by flutist JT Tindall, oboist Alex Porter, clarinetist Ty Wes, bassoonist Cindy Baez, and horn player Joe Vega.
Violinists Jon Chang and Suzanne Lipkin, violist Andrew Holland, cellist Todd Porter, and pianist Ligia Sakurai gave us a spirited, full-bodied account of the fourth movement Allegro from Antonín Dvorák’s Piano Quintet Number Two in A Major, Opus 81, marked by all the fire and earthiness one expects in a Dvorák work.
The instrumentalists for Gordon Percival Septimus Jacob’s Two Pieces for Two Oboes and Cor Anglais began by demonstrating their instruments’ distinctive sounds: oboist Brian Shaw offered a bit of Sergei Prokofiev’s “Peter and the Wolf;” Kevin Chavez played some of Maurice Ravel’s insistent “Bolero” on his oboe d’amore; and Matthew Hadley lent his English horn’s plaintive tone to the “Going Home” melody from the second movement of Dvorák’s Symphony Number Nine in E minor, Opus 95 (“From the New World”). The first Jacob piece was meditative, with an eerily otherworldly sound, while the second suggested a lively walk along the English countryside, with the three woodwinds blending in bagpipe-like tone.
Two movements of works by Franz Schubert followed. Violinists Jonathan Bloomfield and Ben Espinosa, violist Holland, and cellist Brittany Taylor offered the Allegro ma non troppo first movement of the String Quartet Number 13 in A minor, D. 804 (“Rosamunde”), very much the introduction to a Romantic tragedy, that is “Rosamunde, Fürstin von Zypern” (Rosamunde, Princess of Cyprus), a play by Helmina von Chézy, for which Schubert wrote incidental music. Violist Singletary and pianist Smythe delivered the first movement Allegro Moderato from Sonata in A minor, D. 821 (“Arpeggione”), which Singletary explained was originally written for the aforementioned arpeggione, a fretted string instrument, and is now played by viola or cello. His viola part was bowed, then plucked, then bowed again, and the movement sounded serious, almost melancholy, despite its designation, one theme bearing a resemblance to the sad ballad that La Cenerentola sings by the fireplace, in Gioachino Rossini’s Cinderella opera.
The final work was American composer and jazz musician Gunther Schuller’s Suite for Wind Quintet, comprising a Prelude: Allegro, Blues: Andante, and Toccata: Presto, part of it ambling, part syncopated and moody, and then haunting and ending abruptly, as realized by flutist Justin Lee; clarinetist Fran Novak; oboist Ian Shafer, QUO’s Assistant Conductor; bassoonist Darcy Leon; and French horn player Kyle Walker.
The remainder of QUO’s concert season at Holy Apostles, 296 Ninth Avenue at 28th Street, will consist of “Moving Forward,” on May 11 and 12, featuring the world premiere of the winning piece in QUO’s Composition Contest, and “Love Has no Bounds,” on June 22, QUO’s fundraising Gay-la. Visit www.queerurbanorchestra.org
for more information.