16 Mar Winds of Change in NYC: Review
“…Blessed by a nearly Mozartean abundance of attractive ideas, these works stood well above the routine products of their era, especially as sympathetically performed by Les Délices. In the Flute Quartet (originally a sonata for flute and harp), the exceptionally creamy sound of Ferguson’s Baroque flute lifted her fellow players in graceful arcs, as she duetted with violinist Shelby Yamin, and violist Allison Monroe and cellist Rebecca Reed wove the quartet web. A genial fast Andante led to a Menuetto with two contrasting trios, and finally an elegantly tailored Rondeau with a catchy refrain.
If the printed program hadn’t said so, one would hardly have guessed that arranger Nagy had stitched the Oboe Quartet together from two of Bologne’s string quartets. Opening with an intricate and smartly executed Allegro assai in a minor key, the piece settled into a plaintive aria displaying oboist Nagy’s fine phrasing and legato, then changed to major for a witty, tuneful Rondeau.
Between these two quartets by the master from Guadeloupe, the full ensemble of strings, oboe and flute performed a new piece with more explicit Caribbean roots, A Journey to Freedom by the Haiti-born American composer Sydney Guillaume. Despite its hopeful title, this single-movement piece—a Les Délices commission—seemed to offer more questions than answers, as a melancholy theme in a rocking three-to-a-bar returned again and again amid more urgent episodes, including one lilting to a habanera rhythm. At times canons turned round and round in a seemingly endless circle, and the piece closed with Ferguson’s rich flute and Nagy’s slender oboe calling to each other across the stage in a long diminuendo. Was this the winds of change, or the soft breeze of resignation? One awaits the sequel.”