Los Angeles Music Preview: BERLIN PHILHARMONIC WIND QUINTET WITH STEPHEN HOUGH (The Wallis)

by Frank Arthur on February 1, 2018

in Music,Theater-Los Angeles

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HOUGH AND PUFF

The glorious Berlin Philharmonic Wind Quintet is coming to The Wallis in Beverly Hills as part of a very short, nine-stop North American tour. As if having this prestigious ensemble on February 10 isn’t exciting enough, the great pianist Stephen Hough (pronounced “Huff”) will be playing with the Quintet here in Beverly Hills. Although their relationship goes back years — having recorded several CDs on the BIS label — it is a rare opportunity that these mavericks of music appear live together.

The quintet — each of whom comes from one of the world’s greatest orchestras — are Michael Hasel, flute; Andreas Wittmann, oboe; Walter Seyfarth, clarinet; Marion Reinhard, bassoon; and Fergus McWilliam, horn.

Along with works by Mozart (the E-flat Quintet from their first CD), Ibert, Barber, and Poulanc, the program will open with Hough’s 2008 three-movement trio for flute, bassoon and piano, Was mit den Tränen geschieht. The Wallis asked Mr. Hough, a MacArthur “Genius”, about the genesis of the piece.

“I’d sent a small piece I’d written (Un Piccolo Sonatina) to Michael Hasel of the Quintet,” Hough wrote. “And he replied asking if I’d consider writing a trio for him and Marion to play with piano. This was in 2006 I think and I was delighted to be given this particular challenge. Piccolo and contrabassoon are not obvious bedfellows. But my first thought was that I wanted to avoid comedy and for the piece to be serious and romantic … even passionate. Bedfellows indeed! It’s been played quite a bit here and there and one person asked if he could play it on flute rather than piccolo. So now it exists in two versions (same notes, different octave) and I actually prefer it with flute and bassoon.”

Concluding the two-hour program is  Sextet for Piano and Qunitet (1932-39), from their 2009 CD, Danses et Divertissements. Of this recording, the Daily Telegraph stated, “Poulenc’s lyricism is treated with sensitivity and discretion, neither over-egged nor undernourished. Moments where the music might threaten to sound pretentious are poignantly voiced. And there is ample wit and levity, Hough’s lithe playing complementing the zest of the wind instruments in those passages in all three movements where the music irrepressibly bubbles along. This entire recital … is performed with virtuosity and iridescent color.”

photo by Peter Adamik

Berlin Philharmonic Wind Quintet
Stephen Hough, piano
Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts
Bram Goldsmith Theater
9390 N. Santa Monica Blvd in Beverly Hills
plays Saturday, February 10, 2018 at 7:30
for tickets, call 310.746.4000 or visit The Wallis

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