GIG: St Patrick’s Hall, Friday, October 29, 9:30pm
Emily Thomas flute, Steph Nicholls oboe, Ben Collins clarinet and alto sax, Sean Little tenor sax, Callum G’Froerer trumpet, Wendy Tait french horn, Tillman Robinson trombone and bass trombone, Chris Foster piano, Nick Abbey bass, Ben Falle drums, Johannes Luebbers conductor
WILD the west may be, but this dectet, under the “baton” of Johannes Luebbers, was all about restraint and finesse. I was reminded of Maria Schneider Orchestra albums, which I love, and Luebbers studied with her and admits she has been an influence. But we were treated to exquisite original compositions — The Exquisite Corpse of Beethoven, Til Death Does Me Part, Eternity, Everything for Brod, Just Ripe and Rumour Has It — from Luebbers’ two albums Make Some Noise and The Exquisite Corpse of Beethoven.
This was a highlight of the festival and it had only just begun. We heard intricately crafted layers of exquisite timbres, with the varied instruments never seeming to be overwhelmed and each having a chance to feature. Luebbers was attentive to his dectet, at times indicating restraint was in order from the richly expressive trumpet of G’Froerer. Steph Nicholls was another standout on oboe, but this was not about individual virtuosity. There was delicate interplay as the dectet explored varied, detailed landscapes.
Some passages were sombre, others showed energy and fun. Highlights included a horn solo in Til Death Does Me Part, with flute floating at the edges, and the soulful oboe in Eternity. In Everything for Brod the piano chords were appropriately muted and flattened, which seemed to ground the rich harmonies in the piece. G’Froerer’s horn solo in Just Ripe was capable of melting the hardest of hearts. Rumbling and rasping from piano, horns and drums in Rumour Has It preceded a soaring oboe before a slow, stately interlude that evolved into cinematic drama. In all, there was a sense of development.