" 'Is that all?' Alice timidly asked. 'That's all,' replied Humpty Dumpty." This brief exchange between the Capitol Woodwind Quintet's flutist Alice Kogan Weinreb and bassoonist Truman Harris capped off in jolting, epigrammatic style Hungarian composer Gyo rgy Ligeti's assemblage of sonorous upheavals, "Ten Pieces for Wind Quintet," written in 1968. A work of great imagination, it was the centerpiece of the quintet's program concentrating on 20th-century compositions yesterday afternoon at George Mason University.
In Harris' arrangement of J.S. Bach's Two Sinfonias, No. 7 in E Minor and No. 10 in G Major (for oboe, clarinet and bassoon), the reduced forces carefully outlined the contrapuntal melodies, achieving parity as a unified voice in the G Major. French horn player Jon Fredriksen gave a stellar performance of Boujanovsky's "Espan a," a soliloquy in which the soloist alternately converses as a hunting horn and as a trumpet hailing some make-believe matador doffing his cap.
He prefaced the group's traversal of Ligeti's "Ten Pieces" with remarks explaining the writer's intentions, and how the quintet would execute them. With Weinreb also on alto flute and piccolo, oboist Kathleen Golding likewise on oboe d'amore and English horn, their exploration of Ligeti's kaleidoscopic chordal masses of tonal color exposed both formidable technique and ensemble play; the expanses of silence dictated that they take turns counting time for each other to ensure the precision of instrumental entrances.
Weinreb's touching version of Debussy's "Syrinx," was a lovely prelude to the afternoon of the musical flora and fauna present in Jean-Michel Damase's "Variations," whose rhythmic vitality at times created a pronounced carnival atmosphere.