A welcome return for wind instruments onstage.
For the past year, wind instruments have been unable to take to the stage due to the increased restrictions on live performance. So to have them onstage again is certainly cause for celebrating. Kicking off their 2021 season, re:Sound Collective presented a “Grand Tour” of wind quintet music, featuring works by Franz Danzi, Jacques Ibert and Carl Nielsen in January.
re:Sound chairman Mervin Beng opened the evening by addressing the 150-member strong audience at the Victoria Concert Hall, wryly smiling at the limited numbers and commenting ‘is that all we have?’ Even so, we know that it’s the best we can do in these times, with a new, reduced definition of a full house, and that re:Sound would still do their utmost for this audience who took time off to come out and see them. Even more significant? The concert took place exactly a year and one day from their last live performance, almost like an anniversary marking this significant, momentous performance back in the theatre performing live again.
As our voyage on this ‘grand tour’ began, we first arrived in Paris, where we were introduced to Jacques Ibert’s Trois pièces brèves. Joy filled the air as we felt the optimism of the musicians, getting us excited for the next part of the journey and where we would go from here. A long winding road ensued, taking us on a wonderful journey to savour, and it was just great to just hear these wind instruments back on stage, their melodies so pleasing to the ears.
Moving on to Germany, the collective played Franz Danzi’s Quintet op. 68 No. 3 in D minor. Containing plenty of overlapping notes and layers, each instrument was given time to shine and ‘speak’ in the musical conversation. Knowing that the winds have been under such close scrutiny during the COVID-19 period, this piece gave them a chance to be free of that scrutiny, and place them under the spotlight to showcase their talents, a dynamic piece that presented a range of moods.
As we headed over to Austria, with Mozart’s Oboe Quartet in F major, K.370, 1st Movement, the collective was joined by the Concordia Quartet, with Tay Kai Tze on the oboe. This was particularly interesting as the oboe takes centre stage, dictating the pace throughout. Control is absolutely essential in this piece, which was smartly arranged for the quartet.
With Brahms’ Clarinet Quintet in B minor, Op.115, 1st Movement, the collective brought out the soothing, meditative elements of the piece, allowing us to think and reflect on how we’ve missed these wind instruments for far too long. It’s an overwhelming sensation just to see it happen before us and be part of this moment, something they too seem to feel as they pause, almost as if revelling in the glory for just a little longer.
Ending off our journey in Denmark, we were introduced to Carl Nielsen’s Wind Quintet, Op.43, with three movements, it was an ambitious piece to end off the night, pushing musicians to their limits for the evening. It’s admirable how re:Sound doesn’t take the easy way out, and puts in their effort to showcase their skills in a challenging performance to ensure they put on a good show in spite of these difficult times. Challenging, the piece included 11 different variations and styles. telling the same story over and over again, but with a different tone each time to change our perspectives, almost as if to say all of us can experience the same piece, but come out with different opinions and feelings based on our own personalities and lives.
In a time where we can no longer travel, A Grand Tour For Winds ultimately left us with a sense of enjoyment as we were brought on a musical tour by re:Sound, going about these different European countries with the power of music, across genres and pacing. By allowing us not just to take a sneak peek at the ‘sights’, but also soak up and immerse ourselves in the atmosphere of each place we visited, it was a rare chance to experience that feeling of going from place to place while still stuck in Singapore, and testament to the power of wind instruments.
A Grand Tour For Winds played on 16th January 2021 at Victoria Concert Hall. More information available here