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Tuesday, July 3, 2012 - Page updated at 01:30 p.m.
Brass quintet cheers up a gray day in Quilcene
By Bernard Jacobson
Special to The Seattle Times
Alan Iglitzin's Olympic Music Festival in Quilcene, Jefferson County, is just about the most relaxed music festival you could hope to experience, and the opening program of its 29th season, on June 30-July 1, was especially laid-back both in repertoire and in manner of performance.
The atmosphere of the "concerts in the barn" is so infectiously upbeat and invigorating that, even under a leaden sky, Sunday afternoon provided an audience of faithful enthusiasts with a brazen treat that clearly delighted them.
Since the Mosaic Brass Quintet's first appearance at the OMF during the July 4 holiday week two years ago, Zachary Lyman has replaced Matthew Swihart alongside fellow trumpeter Ed Castro — clearly with no diminution in the group's quality, nor in the good humor that the players' genial demeanor, chatty introductory comments and brilliant performances communicate to their audience.
Their program this time around ranged more widely than the "American Celebration" they offered in 2011. We heard music that covered a span of more than 400 years, from the Franco-Flemish Claude Le Jeune's rhythmically vibrant "Revecy venir du Printans," composed around 1565, to American Eric Ewazen's "Colchester Fantasy," written in 1987 when the composer was teaching at the Estherwood Music Festival in the town of that name, which is the oldest recorded town in Britain.
This four-movement work combines serious melodic invention, frequently dazzling rhythmic play and highly effective writing for all five instruments. A virtually immaculate performance featured crisp articulation and a wide range of tone from the trumpets, smoothly effective phrasing from Becky Miller on horn and Keith Winkle on trombone, and some remarkable prestidigitation on the tuba by Paul Evans, who deceptively makes that seemingly unwieldy instrument sound almost easy to play.
Scarcely less attractive, and just as well-played, was the "Suite from the Monteregian Hills" by Canadian composer Morley Calvert (1928-1991). The third movement, titled "Valse Ridicule," or "Ridiculous Waltz," would not have been nearly so funny if the Mosaics had not executed its deliberate inanities with superb aplomb. Their sheer precision exemplified the seriousness of all really good wit.
Inside the barn, music by Sibelius, Victor Ewald, and William Boyce, a "Roaring Twenties Medley," some sparkling Gershwin arrangements, and a blues from the Original Dixieland Jass Band all helped to fill a rain-soaked day with truly festive cheer.
Bernard Jacobson: firstname.lastname@example.org
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