Entertaining finale to music club concert season

It is sometimes thought that a disadvantage of living in this quiet and beautiful corner of Galloway is that we have to travel to Edinburgh or Glasgow to hear good live music; but last Sunday evening that was proved wrong when the Northern Lights Wind Quintet gave a wonderfully entertaining concert in Wigtown County Buildings for the Newton Stewart and District Music Club.

This exciting quintet opened the programme with a sparkling performance of Mozart’s overture to the Marriage of Figaro, whetting the appetite for the next part of a varied and interesting programme. Debussy followed, bringing new vibrant colours in a lovely arangement of three of his well-known piano pieces. Next came Dream City, an intersting arragement of a Malcolm Arnold piano piece, apparently arranged at very short notice by Paul Harris as a Christmas present for his mother, and to complete the first half of the concert, we heard Dvorak’s string quartet, the ‘American’, here arranged by David Walter, full of familiar evocative melodies.

After the break the wide ranging programme continued with Jacques Ibert’s iconic Trois Pieces Breves, with the colourful orchestration, charm and humour of the outer movements contrasting beautifully with the lyrical duet between flute and clarinet in the second movement. Piazolla’s haunting and moody Milonga Sin Parabras had a more thoughtful and serious mood, but if the audience was lulled into a sense of solemnity, this was immediately banished by a hilarious light-hearted account of Norman Hallam’s witty and engaging Charleston, with its bright jazy feel, and some energetic gymnastic choreography from the players. The carefree mood continued with a lively Latin-American piece by De Groot, sympathetically arranged by the quintet’s bassoonist, Graeme Brown, and then a zany and hillarious account of Les Anmimaux, by Jim Parker, with the voices of every imaginable farm animal audible in the hoe-down style of the music.

The Northern Lights’ show-stopping encore, The Amazing Disappearing Clarinet, with clarinettist Fraser Langton playing a gradually diminishing instrument as he dismantled it bit by bit brought this most entertaining of evenings to a close, with a great deal of laughter, and real appreciation for the quintet’s virtuosity.

Thanks to Newton Stewart and District Music Club for a great season of concerts.