On Saturday, March 9th, at St. Philip’s Lutheran Church in Carmel, we were privileged to hear a unique program offered by Ensemble Monterey under the direction of Dr. John Anderson. The program, titled Schubert, was comprised of works by Carl Nielsen, Richard Strauss, and Franz Schubert. Dr. Anderson led the group of highly talented and dedicated musicians through a progression of works culminating in one of Schubert’s masterpieces, the Octet in F Major. The musicians who made this successful evening possible were Erica Horn (clarinet), Gail Selburn (bassoon), Scott Hartman and Jeff Fowler (horn), David Dally (violin and concertmaster), Shannon D’Antonio (violin), Susan Brown (viola), Margie Dally (cello), and Kelly Beecher (bass).
The evening began Serenata in Vano, by Carl Nielsen, whose wit was beautifully characterized by the ensemble. This humorous work opened with an interplay between the winds, which were joined by the horn and strings as the expression took on a noble and beautiful form. The Adagiounfolded with a duet between the winds, soon accompanied by the rich sonorities in the string section and overlaid with an intricate clarinet melody weaving in and out of the harmonic structures. We were led to a humorous ending in the form of a march, which started out in a harmonious and upbeat manner meant to coax the fair one to finally appear. Since she didn’t, the piece ended unceremoniously, leaving the audience to chuckle.
Next, the ensemble offered another work steeped in wit and humour: Strauss’ Till Eulenspiegel – einmal anders. Though this work was originally scored for a 100-piece orchestra, Ensemble Monterey was able to bring it alive through the arrangement for five instruments written by Franz Hasenöhrl. This work sets to music a number of pranks by the legendary character. It opened with a peaceful, bucolic scene, suddenly interrupted with one of Till’s pranks. Each prank would be followed by his denial of culpability using humorous flourishes rendered expertly by the winds. In the end Till is put on trial, with the stern accusations coming from the bass and string section.
During the intermission, student musicians from Youth Music Monterey, under the direction of Sue Mudge, offered a delightful interlude, performing Costanzo Antegnati’sCanzon 9and Henry Purcell’s Air and Allegro. These students, known as the Student Brass Quartet, demonstrated professionalism and accomplishment, and were well deserving of the ovation they received. Congratulations to students Adam Shapiro (trumpet), Jake Garneau (trumpet), Cassidy Novack (french horn) and Bennet Bishop (euphonium).
Following the intermission, we settled in for a great and rare treat: a magnificent performance of Schubert’s Octet in F Major. The musicians handled the entire range of expression with exquisite poise, expression and balance. The main theme of the first movement Allegro was based on the famous song, Der Wanderer. The Adagioopened beautifully with the clarinet, as Erica Horn offered a song that had spiritual overtones. The Allegro vivacewas bright and lively, and the ensemble handled the balance with great sensitivity. In the fourth movement we could hear the singspiel Die Freunde von Salamanka, which seemed evocative of Rosamunde. Following a lovely menuetto and trio, the work culminated in a magnificent finale.
The musicians and conductor were greeted with a standing ovation, and many from the audience seemed uplifted and refreshed by this unique and beautiful program.