"The Double Reed" Favorably Reviews "Summer Sounds, Op. 1"

Kent/Blossom Music Festival CD Review

The Kent/Blossom Music Festival CD, "Summer Sounds, Op. 1" recently received a very favorable review in "The Double Reed." The CD features the music of Margie Griebling-Haigh, composer-in-residence of The Cleveland Orchestra, Jeffery Rathbun and Mozart. Musicians featured on the CD include members of the Kent State University faculty, The Cleveland Orchestra and the Miami String Quartet.

Read the full review below

Here is an attractive program of three recent works and a Mozart String Quartet performed by distinguished musicians from the Cleveland Orchestra, Kent State University, and the Miami String Quartet. Cleveland Orchestra composer-in-residence (2011-12) Margie Griebling-Haigh is represented by her Sinfonia Concertante, and Alegrias, both conducted here by Sasha Mäkilä. Oboist Jeffrey Rathbun's Phases for wind quintet, and Mozart's Quartet in G, K. 387 complete the program.


Griebling-Haigh's Sinfonia Concertante from 2010 establishes from the opening measures of the first movement (Allegro ma non troppo) a Stravinskian neo-classical sound world of boldly stated intervals, punchy rhythmic figurations, and sudden unexpected turns of tonality. Scored for eight players (two oboes, bassoon, and string quintet), members of the ensemble are used both collectively, individually, and in smaller groupings in true concertante fashion. In a word, everybody gets into the act and has a chance to play important solo passages and at other times to be part of the tutti as well. The playing is entirely expert and impressive, as one would expect from the Cleveland musicians. One hears now and then an echo, or tip of the cap to Bartok, which adds to the fun and would seem to be deliberate. The second movement (Andante) opens with dark murmuring in the strings which leads to a deeply expressive and beautifully played bassoon solo. This music is more than clever, and yet as it unwinds at over 10', the material begins to meander and overstay its welcome. The third movement, Rondo di coniglietti (Rondo of little rabbits) is an affectionate reference to John Mack, to whom the work was dedicated. Once again we are treated to neo-classical, cheerful circus-like dance rhythms, and humorous cheeky episodes contrasting against long, graceful cantabile lines. I found this to be the most effective movement of the piece, with a charming coda beautifully played by oboists Frank Rosenwein, Danna Sundet, and bassoonist Barrick Stees.


Alegrias (Joys) from 2009, also by Griebling-Haigh infers elements of Spanish, Sephardic, and Moorish music in its instrumentation, cantare melodies and rhythmic construction. Hearing the sounds of accordian, dumbek, tambourine, and piano, along with oboe and strings makes for an exotic brew, reminding one of Piazzolla. Once again I found the outer movements more convincing, with the finale especially rousing. Ensemble precision and individual playing are impressive at every turn.


Cleveland Orchestra assistant principal oboist, Jeffery Rathbun is gaining increasing recognition as a composer. His wind quintet, Phases from 2007 is an excellent example of his work. Phases is organized into five beautifully scored movements ranging from jazzy-bluesy, quiet and solemn (with some very fine low register oboe work by Rathbun), poly-tonal, rhythmically assertive "modern" music language of the 1970's & 80's, some urgently romantic music, and last but not least, a wink of the bassoon part toward Orff's roasted swan. This is an impressive work, which I very much enjoyed hearing. Terrific music, superb wind playing ... what's not to like?


The Mozart String Quartet in G, K. 387 is an unlikely discmate given the provenance of the other works presented here. And yet, it's hard to protest too much, given the beautifully played, unaffected and stylistic performance given by the Miami String Quartet. One word that does come to mind: enjoy!

-The Double Reed

POSTED: Monday, June 5, 2017 - 3:16pm
UPDATED: Tuesday, June 6, 2017 - 8:30am