Daniel Weiser, Artistic Director of AmiciMusic, is up to his old tricks in presenting this winning new program at Black Mountain's White Horse Black Mountain. True to form, the concert featured outstanding musicians — flutist Dosia McKay, oboist Alicia Chapman, oboe, and pianist Weiser — in this congenial and acoustically gratifying cabaret musical hall. There must be something about the performance of classical music in an informal setting that invites experimentation, although I have a hunch it has as much to do with the entrepreneurial Weiser as anything else. His think-outside-the-box approach extended to this concert's programming, essentially works by kleiner Meisters, thereby making the argument through some of the most eloquent playing I've heard that there is so much more music worth hearing and exploring than we know. He leaves us with the impression that the journey of exploration is endless and that we — performers and audience — are all in it together. Heady stuff indeed.
Of course, to make this strategy work the music has to come to life. For this concert there were two excellent wind players. Flutist Dosia McKay was born and raised in Poland and studied at the Conservatory of Music in Gdansk. Dosia also holds an M.M. in Scoring for Film and Multimedia from New York University and a B.M. in Composition from University of Tennessee. Her music has been featured in New York, Poland, Spain, the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C, and more. She is also a visual artist and a poet who divides her time between New York and Asheville.
Well known to local audiences, oboist Alicia Chapman is principal oboist with the Harrisburg and Asheville Symphonies and plays English horn with the Greensboro Symphony Orchestra. Chapman earned both Bachelor and Master of Music Degrees from the Mannes College of Music and the Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the City University of New York. She has toured in Europe, the former DDR, and Southeast Asia as a chamber musician, has performed with the Metropolitan and New York City Operas, and has recorded with New York Philomusica, Manhattan Chamber Orchestra, and New York Kammermusiker. A founding member of Harmonia Baroque, she has taught oboe at Appalachian State University since 2001, where she is also director of the Collegium Musicum and woodwind chamber music.
Weiser has become a fixture in the Asheville area arts scene. He holds a Doctorate in Piano/Chamber Music from the Peabody Conservatory, where he studied with Samuel Sanders and Robert MacDonald and won the Richard Franko Goldman prize for outstanding contribution to musical and education life. He has performed on many great stages — the Weill Recital Hall of Carnegie Hall, the National Gallery of Art in D.C., and on the Dame Myra Hess Concert Series in Chicago — and around the world, including Israel, Thailand, Holland, and France. Weiser was the 1996 U.S. Artistic Ambassador Abroad, for which he performed on an eleven-country tour of the Middle East and Asia. He has been on the music faculty of Dartmouth College and the prestigious St. Paul's School in Concord, NH.
The program began with a Trio Sonata in C minor by Georg Philipp Telemann (1681-1767), a four-movement work capped by its rhythmically catchy, imitative Finale. There were exquisite blendings of the winds here and really throughout the entire program, reminding us of what wonderful color palettes the winds bring to chamber and orchestral music. Weiser is an impressive continuo player; his dry and clearly articulated attacks a fair simulation of a harpsichord's timbre. Next was Jacques Ibert's (1890-1962) Deux Interludes, originally for flute and violin and piano or harp. Whereas the first movement is of a wistful character, the second is a Spanish-inspired piece with exotic roulades in the oboe and a terse ornamental style in the piano. The last piece before intermission was a Trio in C minor (1898) by Karl Eduard Goepfart (1859-1942), an obscure composer about whom little is known. It's a conservative, late-romantic styled work in three movements that would have been rather unremarkable in lesser hands, but was rendered so expertly as to hold one's attention. The last fast movement in particular was a peculiar mix of heavily imitative sections and march-like music that would have sounded — well, just weird — had these musicians not been able to make something of it.
After intermission were three more works, the first by Anselme Vinee (1841-1921), a virtually unknown composer. His Trio-Serenade is scored for English horn, flute, and piano, which gave Chapman the opportunity to do a mini-tutorial on the instrument. Its three movements were very accessible and rendered in spell-binding beauty by the three players. Following this was the whimsical Trio for Flute, Oboe, and Piano by English composer Madeleine Dring (1923-1977), the rhythmic and metric changeability of which could be directly traced to Poulenc. The final work was William Grant Still's (1895-1978) Miniatures for Flute, Oboe, and Piano, five delightful movements inspired variously by North American (movements 1, 3, and 5) and South American (movements 2 and 4) influences. These are real audience pleasers, especially when they are so expertly stylized as they were in this fine performance. Bravi Tutti!