VentiCordi Mesmerizes Contemporary Music Audience

Woodford Church- Portland, ME. Sunday, November 6, 2016. 2 p.m.

Chalk up one more success for VentiCordi!

Sunday afternoon's audience gave the concert a sincere, well-deserved standing ovation. Then they joined the performing artists for refreshments as is the sponsoring Lark Society's custom at this location.

Where did the years go? VentiCordi was founded in the Kennebunks in 2009. It seems like yesterday that this ensemble began regaling Maine with fine ensemble music always featuring something contemporary whether or not there are classics on the program. I make that statement without research, but that is my recollection of the concerts I have been privileged to attend. Early ones were in Kennebunk. Their base is now South Congregational Church in Kennebunkport across from the Post Office near Dock Square.

The founding virtuosi of Venti Cordi reserved their appearance together until after Intermission. Oboist Kathleen McNerney (Venti) and Violist Dean Stein (Cordi) were joined ensemble by Pianist Bridget Convey in "Schilflieder (Reed Songs) for Oboe, Viola and Piano"(1872) by August Klughardt (1847-1902). The piano was always complementary to, not accompanying, the other instruments. This was the only 19th century composition on the program. All others were of the 20th century.

Madeleine Dring's (1923-1977) "Trio for Flute, Oboe and Piano" (1968) had opened the program. The first movement, Allegro con brio, suggested dueling birdsongs between the wind instruments while the piano maintained perfect balance in support. The second movement, Andante semplice, began with a measured, slow piano introduction and the oboe introduces the entry melody. Allegro gracioso concludes the work nicely while returning to the dueling bird sounds following which the piano breaks in and leads the work to a fine conclusion.

One quickly realized that numbers two and three were switched on the presenters' second thought for program-building balance. Number two " Three Songs for Oboe and Double Bass, after poems of Pablo Neruda" (1996) were program music with the descriptive titles: "Body of a Woman," "The Light Wraps You" and "Every Day You Play" written by Andrea Clearfield (1960- )The duo was an unusual and exceptional combination. Oboist Kathleen McNerney always excels, while the commanding physical presence of the guest double bassist with his huge instrument drew visual attention as great as William Blossom's skill itself.

Next, a larger ensemble played before intermission, "Concertino for Flute, Viola and Double Bass" (1925) by Erwin Schulhoff(1894-1942). Interesting to watch Flutist Sarah Brady alternate skillful playing of flute and piccolo. A notable warm pleasing viola melody graced the second movement as well as outstanding octaves combining viola and double bass.

At last the Cordi part of the duo presenters got to play his principal instrument. Violinist Dean Stein was joined in the final work by Flutist Sarah Brady and Pianist Bridget Convey. The final work was "Trio for Flute, Violin and Piano" (1958) by Nino Rota (1911-1979). The piano at last had a chance to show off in a brilliant opening; the flute handled the second movement's opening andante sostenuto. The third movement offered a Fanfare off-key piano introduction that the others echoed con spirito!

(c)2016 Mary Elizabeth Nordstrom

Mary Elizabeth Nordstrom