Last Thursday, on possibly the warmest evening of the year so far, Westminster Music Library played host to a recital by the Apollo Wind Quintet, a group of professional musicians who have played with some of the most prestigious orchestras in the country, and whose engagements have taken them across Europe, Russia and the USA.
For wind ensembles, it’s not enough to be fine exponents of your instruments; the lack of much suitable repertoire means players must also be inventive with programming. With this in mind we were looking forward to a selection of music either arranged or composed for this combination.
Tuning up complete, our audience settled and suitably refreshed with a cooling drink, Apollo took off like a rocket with an arrangement of Schubert’s Marche Militaire for piano duet. A somewhat fitting choice, as for their “day job” this outstanding Quintet plays with The Welsh Guards Band.
There followed an arrangement of Gounod’s Petite Symphonie (originally scored for flute and wind octet), described by the composer in 1885 as “just a trifle”, but to our ears it was anything but.
Following the interval, when our stars took a well earned break to get their “puff” back, we heard more arrangements of well known classics such as Mozart’s Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, Elgar’s Salut D’amour, both played with sparkle, polish and a good deal of panache.
However, the best was yet to come.
Since the twentieth century, the combination of flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon and horn has been enjoying a renaissance, and with their next piece: Charleston from Norman Hallam’s light hearted Dance Suite, Apollo demonstrated just how versatile they are. This piece is something of a challenge for a classical horn player, but he rose to it with consummate skill. We loved it, and clearly this piece is also a firm favourite with the performers.
To round the concert off we were taken back to the eighteenth century with Tambourin – a dance tune by François Joseph Gossec – originally written for the flute.
All five musicians demonstrated so clearly the art of successful ensemble playing, this was a thoroughly enjoyable concert given by a group of versatile and committed musicians. More please!
“An excellent event – playing of a very high standard and a most attractive programme. An ideal combination for a summer evening!”
“I appreciate the informality and intimacy of these performances, my wife and I have become addicts.”
“Faultless and captivating performance. Nice un-stuffy atmosphere, thank you for a pleasant evening.”