Founded in 1985, the woodwind quintet Pentaèdre has an enviable reputation. It will present a variety of concerts during the 2019-20 season. “Pentaèdre has always been a woodwind quintet, but it is, above all, a flexibly sized ensemble that showcases music for wind instruments,” said flutist Ariane Brisson, the new artistic director. “You can hear a lot of music for woodwind quintet. However, we like varying repertoire, changing ensemble size, and inviting many musicians to join us.”
The season begins with Hommage à Jacques Hétu, a concert that fulfills the ensemble’s mission. On Nov. 8, Pentaèdre observes the 10th anniversary of this composer’s death with pianist Philip Chiu. Through multiple projects, Chiu will highlight the importance and value of piano accompaniment. He was the one who launched the piano accompaniment program at Domaine Forget, directing the program to this day.
“This concert moves me the most, for I believe Hétu is too little known in Canada,” commented Brisson. “Hétu is akin to Sibelius. Hétu’s catalogue contains many works for wind instruments. We would like to produce a disc on the ATMA Classique label in 2020.” Each instrument will be accompanied by piano and showcased in many of the composer’s works. In addition, the ensemble will present Quatre miniatures pour trio d’anches [Four Miniatures for Reed Trio] and Quintette pour instruments à vent, op. 13.
L’univers de Stravinski is offered on Jan. 17. The five instrumentalists with pianist Mehdi Ghazi and percussionist Matthias Soly-Letarte perform reductions of two major works by this Russian composer: Petrushka and Pulcinella. There will also be an opportunity to hear a world premiere by Canadian composer Tawnie Olson. “For the past few years, we’ve decided to commission works to expand repertoire for woodwind quintet,” said Brisson. “I immediately thought of Tawnie Olson, a composer of particular interest who needs more exposure. We’ve given her carte blanche; her first woodwind quintet will be presented this year.”
At the invitation of the Théâtre de la Ville in Longueuil, the ensemble will once again present Un siècle de musique au féminin [A century of music by women] on Jan. 24, a program performed at Bourgie Hall this past April. Discover or rediscover original wind music written by French composers Hedwige Chrétien, Louise Farrenc, Mel Bonis, Claude Arrieu and Elsa Barraine. The ensemble will perform alongside pianist Lysandre Ménard, who was heard in Léa Pool’s Passion of Augustine.
The Pentaèdre musicians will be guests of Les Violons du Roy at the Palais Montcalm in Quebec City on March 12 and 18. “As freelance musicians, we play individually with Les Violons du Roy,” Brisson said. “This time, however, we’ll be performing as a woodwind quintet. We’re looking forward to this adventure.” The quintet will present Du vent dans les cordes, a program showcasing works by Vivaldi, Holst, Reger, Finzi and Mathieu Lussier, Pentaèdre’s bassoonist. Les brumes d’Albion, a composition for woodwind quintet and string orchestra, has been performed by Pentaèdre a few times. This will mark its premiere in Quebec City.
For a third consecutive year, Pentaèdre will give carte blanche to one of its musicians to organize a concert. On May 15, flutist Ariane Brisson takes centre stage with violinist Pascale Giguère, violist Isaac Chalk and cellist Raphaël Dubé, three Violons du Roy musicians. The four will play Mozart’s Quartets for flute and strings. “Performing these four quartets was at the back of my mind,” Brisson said. “I wondered, ‘Who better than these three musicians to exquisitely play Mozart with me?’ This is how the idea came to be. Mozart resonates with me as a flutist. We’re familiar with the Quartet in D major, but the other quartets are unknown. This is an excellent opportunity to appreciate them.”
The 2019-2020 season ends with Vents tropicaux. This “lounge concert” will be presented at Vanier College on May 29. Each musician will perform jazz with electric bass player Carl Mayotte, pandeiro player Olivier Bussière and singer Jeanne Laforest in a laid-back, festive atmosphere with food and refreshments. Together, the musicians will perform an arrangement of Astor Piazzolla’s Cuatro estaciones porteñas and arrangements and compositions by Mayotte. Mayotte just released Le Fantosme, his first solo album, presenting works written by himself. Come see Pentaèdre under another light. This cabaret-style concert will make it possible for the ensemble to have conversations with the audience. “We always want to surprise people and rebrand a woodwind quintet concert,” Brisson said. “Variety is key to our project.”
In addition to presenting annual performances for 34 years, Pentaèdre boasts of a substantial discography. The group’s recent release on ATMA Classique includes original arrangements of six string quartets dedicated to Haydn and Mozart. These arrangements for woodwind quintet, by Geoffrey Emerson, Mathieu Lussier, Normand Forget and Martin Carpentier, represent the outcome of nearly 40 years of work and research.
Translation by Dwain Richardson
Pentaèdre presents Hommage à Jacques Hétu at the Conservatoire de musique de Montréal on Nov. 8 at 7:30 p.m. www.pentaedre.com
The Pentaèdre disc collection is available on the ATMA Classique label. www.atmaclassique.com