Akropolis Reed Quintet’s performance of Refraction reviewed in Portland

Matthew Neil Andrews of Oregon ArtsWatch wrote a wonderfully descriptive review of the Akropolis Reed Quintet’s performance of Refraction.

“Akropolis Reed Quintet: Strutting and strolling – Chamber Music Northwest stalwarts return for concert and community engagement”

Biedenbender delivered three impressions of modern life, each with its own colorful title. Death Metal Chicken is based on a YouTube video of a rooster crowing to death metal music; Kyrie after Machaut and Pärt is a tribute to tributes, Arvo Pärt being another living composer with a shameless enthusiasm for the music of the past, including that of medieval French composer Guillaume de Machaut; and Goat Rodeo “refers directly to a chaotic situation that might come to a resolution, but not willingly so” (Landry referred to it as “a new agey term”).

Refraction fully explores the sonic possibilities of the wind instruments. The oboe squeaks, the sax squeals, the bassoon squonks; the clarinetists walk offstage to produce monasterial echo effects. Kari Landry isn’t the first clarinetist I’ve heard imitating a squabbling chicken, but she might be the best. Bassoonist Ryan Reynolds and bass clarinetist Andrew Koeppe played nasty power chords on Death Metal Chicken that would make Morbid Angel jealous. The group’s powerful intimacy came to the front in the Kyrie’s imitative counterpoint, brief melodic figures and quick little mordentsricocheting around the ensemble like antiphonal motets in a medieval cathedral. When Akropolis performed Refraction at MHCC, both clarinetists started out the Kyrie playing in the concrete-arched hallway, outside the small theatre altogether, before strutting back in to rejoin the group.