Serenata reflects inner turmoil - Albuquerque Journal

Serenata reflects inner turmoil

There are only three works on Serenata of Santa Fe’s program today, but they are so different from one another that artistic director and oboist Pamela Epple calls the concert “Twists and Turns.”

Oboist Pamela Epple is artistic director of Serenata of Santa Fe, which performs this afternoon.
Oboist Pamela Epple is artistic director of Serenata of Santa Fe, which performs this afternoon.

“Each work has a lot of inner drama,” she said. “We start with Bernard Herrmann’s ‘Souvenirs de Voyage’ for clarinet quintet. It’s hypnotic and has a nervous feeling to it. The piece reflects a lot of Herrmann’s inner turmoil.”

“Souvenirs de Voyage” is a concert piece written by a composer best known for his work in film. Herrmann collaborated with Alfred Hitchcock on “Psycho,” “North by Northwest,” “The Man Who Knew Too Much” and “Vertigo.” He also composed scores for other movies including “Citizen Kane,” “The Day the Earth Stood Still” and “Taxi Driver.” His music was featured in Rod Serling’s “The Twilight Zone.”

“‘Souvenirs de Voyage’ is tonal music that creates a mood,” Epple added. “I find it fascinating. I coached this piece at Apple Hill (Center for Chamber Music) years ago. The conversations the musicians got into about it were compelling.”

In contrast to Herrmann’s work, the concert continues with “Island Prelude” for oboe and strings by Joan Tower.

“It’s an antidote to Bernard Herrmann,” said Epple. “The beauty and lyricism of this piece is like being on an island. The oboe has short cadenzas that remind me of (Igor) Stravinsky. They’re primal. Joan Tower describes the oboe’s part as like a brightly colored bird.”

Behind the tropical feeling of the work is a technical challenge for the musicians. The meter changes frequently yet subtly. “There’s a lot going on in every measure,” said Epple.

Johannes Brahms’ Trio in A Minor, Op. 114 for clarinet, cello and piano closes the program. This work is one of four chamber pieces featuring the clarinet that Brahms composed near the end of his life. He was inspired by the playing of German clarinetist Richard Muhlfeld. Epple says the piece is beautifully written for the clarinet and shows everything that Brahms was capable of doing as a composer.

Performing in the concert are Serenata of Santa Fe regulars violinists David Felberg and Elena Sopoci, cellist Sally Guenther, clarinetist Keith Lemmons, oboist Epple and pianist Debra Ayers.

Violist Shanti Randall is a guest artist who has played with Serenata of Santa Fe periodically through the years. He was born and reared in Albuquerque.

Randall attended the New England Conservatory of Music and has traveled the world extensively, playing in various symphonies and string quartets. He has recorded and performed with major recording artists including Willie Nelson, Ray Charles, Bette Midler, Randy Newman, Andrea Bocelli, Kelly Clarkson, Christina Aguilera and Barbra Streisand. He was a member of the Hollywood Studio Orchestra and performed frequently with both the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Los Angeles Opera before moving back to New Mexico.


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