Welcome back! We have moved from the Danish Broadcasting Corporation to the Royal Library on the harbourside here in Copenhagen. It's Day 3, and Round 2 of the wind quintet competition. The fun starts in 5 minutes.
And we're off! You are watching the Qunst Quintet from Germany in Ligeti's 6 Bagatelles.
When the filmmaker Leslie Megahey made a portrait of György Ligeti for the BBC, he laid movements of this quintet over footage of Tom & Jerry. This is music all about vivid colours and games.
You are listening to a world premiere! By virtue of the schedule, the Qunst Quintet are giving the first performance of Esben Nordborg Møller's Four Competition Pieces, written for this competition.
The work is in four 'pieces'. While the musical material overlaps, the composer says 'it is important that the pieces are interpreted individually and infused with their own character and mood. It is left to the interpreters to find the express subtleties of the music.'
It's not difficult to believe, that when Schoenberg's Wind Quintet was first performed, it required a conductor. What an extraordinary piece it is. Surely the challenge is in making it sound rich, not dense. We will hear it two more times today.
After this performance of Esben Nordborg Møller's Quintet, these Toulousians will bring us music by the Finn, Kalevi Aho - the first two movements of his Wind Quintet written in 2006 - a piece in which he challenged himself to solve the difficult balance issues presented by the wind quintet lineup: flute, clarinet, oboe, horn and bassoon.
...one of Aho's solutions was to have musicians walk off the platform and play 'off stage', but that doesn't occur in the first two movements (we have to wait until after lunch to experience it). Another was to have instruments play in unison (on the same notes).
Either way, each of Aho's four movements is divided into two distinct moods. The first movement opens in agitation before blossoming into song. The second begins virtuosic and then becomes more obsessed with rhythm.
Watching these five orchestral musicians from Toulouse playing together is a joy. As Rie Kock was explaining from the stage a little earlier, they have been telling her how much they enjoy playing WITHOUT a conductor. There are plenty of orchestral musicians who will be able to relate to that...!
We're taking a short break now, and will be back at 14.00 CET.
Welcome back! Five minutes until we return with our next contestants: the Pacific Quintet. Plenty here have been talking about their wonderful Taffanel in the first round....what can they do with Ligeti, Aho and Møller?
The Pacific Quintet is an embodiment of the borderlessness of classical music - its members met in Japan, and come from Japan, Honduras, Russia, Germany and Korea.
...now, they are based in Berlin.
Now to Kalevi Aho's Wind Quintet No 1, written in 2006. This is when we can expect some movement on/off stage: in the fourth movement (which the Pacific Quintet will play second), each instrument spends some time playing from an off-stage position.
Aho was so daunted by the prospect of balancing his five wind instruments, that he decided to use those spatial techniques - physically separating the instruments from one another. Only this ensemble, the Pacific Quintet, has opted to play the fourth movement.
It is a beautiful bit of symbolism - these musicians hail from all corners of the globe and have now come together to form a single ensemble.
Hats off to the O'Globo Quintet from Madrid - starting with that Schoenberg is brave! But it's also strategically very wise to get the toughest piece out of the way first. It has warmed them up nicely for the Møller quintet.
Here we go - the competition's first taste of Paul Hindemith. A composer who always raises a smile (especially in this 'lustig' first movement).
...now for Hindemith's second movement, a tipsy waltz.
We take a short break now, and will be back at 15.50 when the home-team, V Coloris from here in Copenhagen, brings us more Ligeti, more Møller and this time, Schoenberg.
Welcome back - we're almost ready to recommence...
...and it's the home-team V Coloris who get us going. Will they be wearing the same colourful shirts??
Aha! Not the coloured shirts, but flowery shirts instead. 'V Flororis'...?
Whatever they are wearing, V Coloris are really making this Ligeti their own. Fearless!
The ensemble was founded at the Royal Danish Academy of Music in 2017. It contains three Danes, and two Romanians, but is a true child of Copenhagen!
These guys know how to put on a show! Did you catch that cheeky turn to the audience for the Ligeti's last note from clarinettist Jonas Lyskjær Frølund? Our cameraman did. What character and confidence this ensemble has...maybe boosted by their home advantage.
A piece that sounds more and more tuneful the more you hear it. V Coloris, untangling the knots of Schoenberg's Wind Quintet and apparently loving every minute of it. 'Both forbidding and congenial' wrote one critic of this piece - the same could be said of this performance.
They were the first ensemble we heard from, two days ago. Now they wrap up the second round of the wind competition - Ensemble Ouranos. The only ensemble in the competition that plays sitting down.
That's it for today! Visit our facebook page to find out which quintets will proceed to Saturday's final. In the meantime, see you tomorrow at 12.00 CET for the second round of the String Quartet competition.