It's not every day that one hears a concert devoted solely to music by women composers, let alone contemporary ones. For that reason, the Capital Woodwind Quintet's Sunday afternoon recital at Wolf Trap proved noteworthy indeed. Sponsored by the Wolf Trap Foundation and the Virginia chapter of American Women Composers, the concert featured four works of varying coherence and imagination.
By far the most provocative was "Nightwatch," Clare Shore's highly impressionistic evocation of the 12 signs of the zodiac. From its fanfare-like beginning to its quivering, haunting close, the piece covers an immense amount of dramatic territory. Each section reveals a clear structure and mood; at times Shore's layering and highlighting of flute, clarinet, oboe, bassoon and horn is positively orchestral.
In her lengthy "Suite for Woodwind Quintet" Helen Tobias-Duesberg exhibited a strong rhythmic sense and a flair for graceful entrances and echoes. Genevieve Fritter's "Three Movements for Flute, Oboe and Bassoon" was an alternately bucolic and emphatic opener. Only Jutta Eigen's disjointed "Wind Quartet" lacked the structural glue that makes for untroubled listening.
Flutist Alice Kogan Weinreb, oboist Kathleen Golding, clarinetist Lora Ferguson, bassoonist Truman Harris and horn player Scott Fearing performed with great polish, demonstrating a real commitment to and feeling for this new music.