Many local chamber groups have symphony affiliations, including the Capitol Woodwind Quintet, whose members hold chairs in the National Symphony Orchestra and the Kennedy Center Opera House Orchestra. This group, which has been together since 1977, showed the sort of careful preparation and committed playing one expects of a veteran ensemble at its season opener yesterday afternoon at Temple Micah. The program itself also revealed the investigative efforts needed to locate works arranged for this particular wind configuration.
Franz Danzi's Quintet in E Minor, Op. 67, No. 2, was a model of clarity. Duplication of flute and oboe parts contrasted with clarinet-generated melodic ideas supported by French horn and bassoon to create textural variety and strong "sectional" identity. The clarinet-bassoon connection resurfaced in Beethoven's pre-opus number "Duo in F," a rarely heard piece that sparkled with a Mozartean grace thanks to Lora Ferguson and Truman Harris.
Two piano adaptations, the mighty Brahms "Variations and Fugue on a Theme by Handel," Op. 24, and Ligeti's folk-inspired "Six Bagatelles," favored a more egalitarian instrumental approach, and the quintet had no difficulty keeping the interwoven parts taut and focused. The cumulative effect of "Bagatelles" (each movement uses more notes-per-melody than its predecessor) was interrupted by a thunderclap and ensuing downpour that sounded like a Kennedy Center-size ovation, which the quintet deserved but eventually received on a smaller scale.