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Music Reviews : 'Music On Main' In Santa Monica

October 20, 1987|TERRY McQUILKIN

The "Music on Main" program at the Santa Monica Heritage Museum may have been rather unusual, but it reflected perfectly artistic director Daniel Kessner's goal of scheduling works that are "off the beaten track." After his pithy opening remarks, the new series began Sunday evening with a concert by the North Wind Quintet.

The group opened with Mozart's "Magic Flute" Overture, in an effective arrangement by David Carp, and closed with a work by Felix Rosenthal, whose name does not appear in major reference works. Judging by its sound, the work dates from a little more than 100 years ago. Rosenthal wrote effectively for these instruments, but his E-flat Quintet, whose chromaticism suggests the music of Caesar Franck, is nonetheless harmonically and melodically insipid.

Three contemporary works proved more engaging. A folk-like melodic style, driving rhythms, sharp dissonances, and a wry humor characterize Ligeti's early "Six Bagatelles." It is tricky music, but the five musicians--flutist Alice McGonigal, oboist Michael Kibbe, clarinetist Robert Crosby, bassoonist Jenice Rosen and hornist Louise MacGillivray--performed the suite with virtuosic flair.

Kibbe's own Quintet No. 6 shows the influence of quite a number of composers (the coda seems almost to have been lifted from a Philip Glass composition). Its lack of originality notwithstanding, Kibbe's rhythmically complex, contrapuntal work is well organized, idiomatic and attractive.

One of Kibbe's mentors, Frank Campo, conducted his own "Viaggi," for which percussionist Paul Sternhagen joined the quintet. A skilled clarinetist, Campo knows the capabilities of the instruments, which he often uses in their extreme registers. The result is a harsh, sometimes strident piece, where slow, tense meanderings alternate with frenetic outbursts, giving the listener a constant but unsettling feeling of involvement.

Fine balances, rhythmic solidity and generally good intonation marked the quintet's performances.

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