The Knox Wind Ensemble performed pieces by Ludwig von Beethoven, Charles Ives, and Frankz Liszt, featuring woodwind quintets in Kresge Hall. The Wind Ensemble, directed by Jill Marasa, is composed of nine instrumentalists including four clarinets, one flute, oboe, French horn and trombone, with one member interchanging between trumpet and euphonium.
The first piece was Quintet Op. 71 by Beethoven, originally a written for string quintet in four movements. The first movement highlighted Beethoven’s style of using little motifs with the woodwinds playing a four note motif throughout. The difficult runs of notes were expertly played.
The next movement was at a slower tempo with notes drifting in and out until a legato melody took over, lulling the listener. The second movement first featured the French horn playing melody, then picked up by the clarinet, oboe and finally flute. The tempo quickened until it went back to the first tempo and back to the legato style. Also having a repeated melody, the third movement had instrumentalists playing the same melody one after the other. The final movement interchanged between a solemn melody and a bouncy one, ending with the four-note motif of the original theme.
The second piece played was The Unanswered Question by Charles Ives, arranged by Daniel Godsil. The ensemble rearranged themselves, sitting with their respective quartets: the string quartet was arranged for organ (played by Daniel Godsil), flute, French horn, and trombone, the woodwind quartet was played by one flute and three clarinets and the “question” of the piece was played by the trumpet and oboe. The concept was that the other instrumentalists get more frantic in their frustration because of the “unanswered question.”
At the end the ensemble sat in their original positions and played the final piece of the concert which was composed of three concert pieces from The Years of Pilgrimage by Franz Liszt: Pastoral, Le Mal du Pays (Longing for Home) and Eglogue. These pieces were written to depict a journey through Switzerland, Italy, and other European countries.
Overall, there was a balance in sound, with not too much of any one instrument so that each instrumentalist was clearly heard. There were some squeaks made by the clarinets, but it didn’t affect the quality of the music played. The concert was so enjoyable that at one point a little girl in the audience began conducting her hands to the music.