IN REVIEW: Pentaedre puts wind instruments in the spotlight

Erin Perkins
By Erin Perkins
January 29th, 2012

After an evening of listening to the subtle and rich tones of the wind instrument quintet Pentaedre, I don’t think I could go back to seeing those instruments stuffed in the back of an orchaestra pit where they can usually be found.

The Grand Forks Secondary School auditorium was nearly full with both young and young-at-heart music lovers who gave a well-deserved standing ovation to the Quebec based quintet after their 90 minute performance, Thursday, Jan. 26.

The performance was brought to Grand Forks by the Boundary District Arts Council 2011-2012 Performance Series.

“The wind instruments are normally at the back of the orchaestra,” said bassoonist Mathieu Lussier, during the concert. “So this is why we love quintets so much.”

The evening was truly a symphony of sound, without the symphony. It was an evening of learning, listening and experiencing the complexities of human emotion through the “stories” told by the flute played by Daniele Bourget, the oboe played by Norman Forget, the clarinet played by Martin Carpentier, the bassoon played by Mathieu Lussier and the horn played by Louis-Philippe Marsolais, who is also the group’s artistic director.

For me, the most memorable of all the instruments was the bassoon. It is an instrument we rarely see up close and is even more rarely given any solo spots as it was that night. Yet this rich, deeply-toned instrument has a lot of personality — or maybe that’s just the musician who made it both comical and soulful sounding throughout the performance.

Because most music is not written specifically for a wind instrument only quintet, the group had most of the music re-written for their performances, making a truly unique experence.

The evening began with some toe-tapping light and fun selections with a Latin American flare including Mathieu Lussier’s Dos Tropicos and a piece by Denis Plante, a Canadian bandeoneon and tango music specialist, called Suite Piedre Libre.

But the one I liked the most was Aires Tropicales, which they played at the end of the first set. It is a suite of dances written for a quintet by Cuban clarinetist Paquito D’Rivera. There was a range of musical influences in the suite including a Brazilian waltz and African folklores. It amazed me how a group without a drum could make such great Africian sounding beats. The musicians switched up their sounds a bit by adding in a piccolo, a small flute that plays an octave above a standard flute, and an alto flute, which had a deeper and reeder tone than the usual flute.

The second portion of the evening featured operatic pieces including 19th Century flutist Giulio Briccialdi’s work Quintet Op. 124, Rossini’s La Cenerentola and Mozart’s Cosi fan Tutte. The operatic pieces didn’t capture my attention quite like the earlier latin influenced pieces did. They are long, in true operatic fashion. Although Lussier did a fantastic job explaining each piece and what story they would be telling, because I have never seen an opera, I found it difficult to envision, even for someone who enjoys classical music.

Pentaedre has toured Europe and North Amercia for the past 25 years. For more information, visit their website at www.pentaedre.com.

Pentaedre was part of the Boundary District Arts Council 2011-2012 Performance Series line-up. The next event will be a musical Toad of Toad Hall presented by The Rivers’ Edge Theatre Society. There will be four performances held at the Grand Forks Secondary School Auditorium, Thursday, Feb. 16 and Friday, Feb. 17 at 7 p.m.; Saturday Feb. 18 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Tickets on sale at Gallery 2 Gift Shop and Thistle Pot Gifts in Grand Forks.

Also watch for more details for the 13th annual B.C. Arts and Culture Week, April 22 to 28.

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