Berliners here to show beauty of wind quintet

By Korea Herald
  • Published : Jul 2, 2014 - 20:05
  • Updated : Jul 2, 2014 - 20:05
Adding extra colors to the season’s chamber music lineup, five veteran members of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra are holding a five-city tour of Korea as a wind ensemble, starting Thursday in Busan.

Speaking at a press conference in Seoul on Wednesday, the Berlin Philharmonic Wind Quintet said the upcoming concerts will be a chance for Korean music aficionados to discover a hidden gem in the world of chamber music which is, both locally and globally, heavily dominated by string instruments.

“A wind quintet is totally different from a string quartet or a brass ensemble,” said clarinetist Walter Seyfarth, who founded the quintet back in 1988. 
Berlin Philharmonic Wind Quintet. (Photo by Peter Adamik, provided by Eagon)

In string or brass ensembles, the instruments are basically of the same family. But the five instruments in a wind quintet ― a flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon (woodwinds) and a French horn (brass) ― differ from one another considerably in light of technique, idiom and timbre.

“So, we have to handle five different colors, which makes (a wind quintet) so interesting, charming and beautiful,” the musician said.

“The string quartet is much like a choir. But the wind quintet is five totally different instruments playing together, which means that a whole new musical language is possible,” said horn player Fergus McWilliam.

He added that the program of the upcoming tour, presented by Eagon, a local maker of windows and doors, will show the extent of such differences.

It’s just four pieces, but it ranges from a classic Mozart piece to a 2006 work by a lesser-known Finnish composer particularly for wind quintets, McWilliam explained.

“Three of the four pieces are from the 20th century and each piece is a surprise.”

The three are “Wind Quintet” by Kalevi Aho, “Six Bagatelles for Wind Quintet” by Gyorgy Ligeti and “Wind Quintet” in A major, Op. 43, by Carl Nielsen.

As for the work by Danish composer Nielsen, people might think, “Oh, it’s just five instruments. A manageable size. Small,” McWilliam went on. “Then to their surprise, the music sounds just like a symphony, or like a small orchestra,” he said.

“So the theme of the program is to surprise the audience with the extraordinary range and possibilities of a wind quintet.”

The 25th edition of the annual Eagon Concert, spotlighting the Berlin Philharmonic Wind Quartet, is free. After performing in Busan and Goyang, they will come to Seoul Arts Center on Saturday for two concerts ― one starting at 2:30 p.m. and the other at 8:00 p.m. The ensemble will then go on to play at Incheon and Gwangju.

Eagon has been presenting top-quality classical music concerts free of charge since 1990, as part of its Mecenat program. For details, visit www.eagonblog.com or call (032) 760-0898.

By Lee Sun-young (milaya@heraldcorp.com)