Ghosts, Gargoyles, and an Emperor


Two concerts this past weekend exemplified Seattle’s diverse classical music scene. Saturday night, acclaimed, local flutist Paul Taub celebrated thirty years in Seattle with an anniversary concert at the Cornish College of the Arts. The next day, the musicians of Philharmonia Northwest, one of the regions many talented community and semi-professional orchestras, tuned their instruments and played their second concert of the 2009/2010 season. The concert featured Shostakovich’s Ninth Symphony and Beethoven’s daunting Emperor Concerto for piano with Robert Silverman at the keyboard.

Only a few years ago, a weekend including these two concerts and performances by the Seattle Symphony playing downtown would have been considered busy. Today, a Paul Taub recital and a Philharmonia Northwest concert compete with numerous other classical music organizations. On this particular weekend, my interests were divided among at least six different performances. Since I only have one set of ears, I had to choose.

I was drawn to Taub’s performance because of two pieces we discussed over breakfast the week before — Henry Brant’s Ghosts and Gargoyles for solo flute, flute octet, and jazz drummer and Reza Vali’s Kismet for flute trio. For Ghost’s and Gargoyles, the flute octet was positioned throughout the small recital hall. Four flutes were placed in the balcony of Kerry Hall, while the remaining flutists lined the aisles on the ground level of the hall. Only three musicians occupied the stage – Taub, conductor Roger Nelson, and drummer Brad Gibson.

The Philharmonia Northwest deserves more attention than it gets. Serious music lovers know the group well and are quick to extol the ensemble and Shakarian’s virtues. When Sunday’s Philharmonia Northwest concert began, I definitely didn’t need to fall head over heels for another Seattle orchestra. I am already fond of the Seattle Symphony, Seattle Philharmonic, Orchestra Seattle, and the Puget Sound Symphony. But, by the time the concert ended, that is exactly what happened. 


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