“Chamber Music for Pianos and Winds”: A faculty concert

On Wedneday, April 3, there was a faculty recital at 7:30 p.m. in the Lawrence Memorial Chapel. The recital was titled “Chamber Music for Piano and Winds,” and it featured seven faculty members: Erin Lesser, Associate Professor of Flute; Nora A. Lewis, Associate Dean of Faculty and Associate Professor of Music: Oboe; Andy Hudson, Associate Professor of Music; Joseph R. Connor, Instructor of Music; Ann Ellsworth, Assistant Professor of Music: Horn; Brigit Fitzgerald, Visiting Assistant Professor of Music; and Michael D. Mizrahi, Frank C. Shattuck Professor of Music. Wow, that was a mouthful! The recital had a large turnout, as many beloved Conservatory professors were on stage.  

The recital opened with the “Sextet for Piano and Winds [20’]” by Francis Poulenc (1899-1963). Lesser (playing flute), Lewis (oboe), Hudson (clarinet), Ellsworth (horn), Fitzgerald (bassoon) and Mizrahi (piano) were featured in this piece. Poulenc’s chamber music piece starts with “Allegro vivace,” which is in ternary form; this means that it is a three-part form that goes by an A-B-A pattern, where the beginning is repeated at the end. “Allegro vivace” has an energetic beginning, then delves into a slower bit that is initiated by the bassoon, before sliding back into the energetic tempo to finish the movement. The rest of Poulenc’s piece consists of the “Divertissement: Andantino” (second movement) and “Finale: Prestissimo,” which have varying forms outside of the ternary form (rounded binary form and rondo form, respectively). Overall, these pieces seem to be rather complicated (coming from a student who knows relatively little about the Con).  

Erin Lesser (flute), Nora Lewis (oboe), Brigit Fitzgerald (bassoon), Ann Ellsworth (French horn), Joseph Connor (saxophone) and Andy Hudson (clarinet).
Photo by Kai Frueh.

Next, Mizrahi was swapped for Connor (alto saxophone), and the sextet performed “Printemps [10’]” by Henri Tomasi (1901-1971). This piece can be summarized in one word: birds! The professor introducing the piece noted that this piece is rarely played, which made it all the more exciting! Its first movement is titled “Réveil des Oiseux” (“Awakening of Birds”) and it did, indeed, sound like birds waking up and shrieking (in a good way). The second movement shifts to a slower amalgamation of sound, being titled “Chat d’Amour: Lent” (“Song of Love: Slow”). Finally, the piece wraps up with its final movement, “Danse des Oiseaux: Scherzando” (“Bird Dance”/“Dance of Birds”). Tomasi’s piece was my favorite, because it was fun associating the sounds of instruments with birds! 

The recital finished with “Quintet for Piano and Winds in E-Flat Major, K. 452 [25’]” by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791). Faculty members in this piece included Lewis, Hudson, Ellsworth, Fitzgerald and Mizrahi. Movement “Largo — Allegro moderato” opens Mozart’s piece, and it is in sonata form, opening with a slow introduction. Eight minutes later, the piece transitions to the second movement, titled “Larghetto,” (translated to “somewhat slow”), also in sonata form. Finally, the third movement is “Allegretto” (which translates to “graceful and moderately fast tempo”) and consists of a five-part rondo in A-B-A-C-A form. Mozart’s piece concludes this recital well, leaving listeners’ ears satisfied.  

The nine faculty members all bowed as the concert drew to a close. Keep your eyes peeled for more faculty and guest concerts to attend!