Windscape, woodwinds

Painters provide us with landscapes and seascapes. Leave it to five of the world's finest musicians to throw in a windscape as well.

Windscape, which performs Saturday evening in Columbia under the aegis of Howard County's Candlelight Concert Society, is one of the most eminent woodwind quintets, a combination of flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon and French horn. Created in 1994 by five of New York City's best, the quintet has spent the past decade charming and edifying audiences with thematic programs such as "Beethoven Comes to Vienna," "East Meets West: The Music of Japan and the Impressionists" and "The Fabulous Fifties."


Saturday's concert is a retrospective of 20th-century master composers, a group highlighted by the engaging, endlessly colorful French master Maurice Ravel, whose music Windscape has been focusing on for its coming release on Arabesque Records.

Ravel's "Ma Mere l'Oye" (Mother Goose Suite) began as a collection of piano duets. Inspired by Sleeping Beauty, Tom Thumb, Beauty and the Beast and other children's stories, the pieces soon were orchestrated and then later arranged for the quintet's complement of winds.


Ravel's "Tomb of Couperin," a 20th-century French composer's musical homage to one of the giants of France's 18th-century baroque period, will lend its touches of anachronistic flair to the program.

At the other end of the aesthetic spectrum are some of the more insistent voices of 20th- century modernism, most notably Olivier Messiaen's "Prelude No. 1" and the Woodwind Quintet of Elliot Carter - whose rhythms and harmonies jolted the second half of the century, much as Igor Stravinsky had set heads spinning a generation or two earlier.

Music lovers also can look forward to the prelude from Leonard Bernstein's Trouble in Tahiti, a tuneful piece of musical theater from young Lenny that was a harbinger of things to come from the maestro about to burst onto the American musical scene.

The parent ensemble for Windscape's players is the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, the conductorless ensemble that has made its mark on the New York concert circuit and on the prestigious Deutsche Grammophon and Nonesuch recording labels.

Backed up by Orpheus, Windscape bassoonist Frank Morelli, French hornist David Jolley and oboist Randall Wolfgang have recorded exceptional versions of Mozart's concertos for their instruments on Deutsche Grammophon.

Windscape clarinetist Alan Kay is Orpheus' current principal, while flutist Tara Helen O'Connor is a soloist with New York's renowned Bach Aria Group and a 2003 Grammy Award nominee for the recording of Osvaldo Golijov's "Yiddishbbuk" on the EMI label.

Fair winds, indeed.

Windscape performs as part of the Candlelight Concert Society's 2003-2004 season at 8 p.m. Saturday at Smith Theatre on the campus of Howard Community College. General admission tickets sold at the door are $29; $26 for those older than 60; and $12 for full-time students. Tickets and details: 410-480-9950, or visit