Annapolis Chamber Music Festival

Fearless musicians. Stories that sing.

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The Color of Sound

  • Unitarian Universalist Church of Annapolis 333 Dubois Road Annapolis, MD, 21401 United States (map)

"The knower of the mystery of sound knows the mystery of the whole universe." - Hazrat Inayat Khan

In music notated on the page, we can see pitches and rhythms clearly written out.  Yet the most fundamental aspect of music, the sound of the instrument, is impossible to capture with pen and ink.  The works chosen for this program are written in different styles and time periods, yet they all derive beauty from skillfully mixing the distinctive sounds of each instrument into unusual combinations.  

George Onslow, a name largely forgotten now, was in his time regarded as "the French Beethoven." His chamber music was held in the highest esteem by Robert Schumann and Hector Berlioz and was performed by the leading musicians of the day. In the Nonet, Onslow's mastery shows in constantly evolving configurations of sound color and melody. The result is a piece that deserves to stand with the great large-ensemble chamber works of the 19th century.

The Onslow is accompanied on this program by a pair of works from 1920s Paris. Prokofiev's Quintet began its life as a score for a circus-themed ballet, which he depicts with very unusual and distinctive sound combinations.  The Quintet requires virtuoso turns for each instrument while vividly telling a story, a thrilling combination for both the audience and performers!  Poulenc's Trio for Oboe, Bassoon and Piano takes music of the French Baroque as a model to create melodies and dialogues that perfectly suit the voice of each instrument.

Francis Poulenc - Trio for Oboe, Bassoon, and Piano op. 43

Sergei Prokofiev - Quintet op. 39 for Oboe, Clarinet, Violin, Viola and Double Bass


George Onslow - Nonet op. 77 for Strings and Winds