Thanks to Doug, my house mate, dear friend, and fellow artsy fartsy, we attend the Oneppo Chamber Music Series at Yale’s Morse Recital Hall at Sprague on a regular basis. For the most part, the Oneppo series highlights String Quartets. (I still get emotional when I think of a performance of a Schubert Quartet from last February’s Danish Quartet performance.)
But this past Tuesday night, the Imani Winds sat where strings usually sit, and presented a concert of eclectic, daring, mostly 20th century music, that was so deeply felt, those Danish guys looked positively stoic by comparison.
Every member of the quintet contributes to either a completely original piece, or an arrangement of an existing piece, and each member spends some time at the microphone talking about the piece we are about to hear. I cannot tell you how refreshing this is. And since each member has an interesting personality and a sense of fun, the entire evening is completely entertaining.
One of the highlights of the evening Jonathan Russell’s pared down arrangement of Rimsky-Korsakov’s Sheherazade, arranged specifically for Imani, highlighted the virtuosic talents of each member of the quintet, and accomplished what you always want a transcription to achieve by letting us hear the inner harmonies of the piece, which are sometimes harder to hear with a full orchestra.
The quintet did a terrific job on the Heitor Villa-Lobos piece, Quintette en forme de Choros. I like Villa-Lobos, even though Igor Stravinsky once said, “Why is it, that whenever I hear a piece of music I hate, it always turns out to be a piece by Villa-Lobos? (ouch, Igor) Over the years, I have had the joy of performing his work. My high hum to an A-flat allowed me to get picked often to sing his Aria Number Five (sadly, never with the eight celli, but with classical guitar, thanks to the Segovia transcriptions.) Imani really found a sweet spot with this piece, and it was my favorite of the evening.
The group plays with great passion, and they are committed to present an ethnic groove. Their encore was a fun, rich piece, that gave more than a nod to Hanukkah, and highlighted clarinetist Miriam Adam beautifully.
Imani is based out of New York, and travels extensively. They have recently returned from an Australian tour.