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Saxophone Quartet earns an encore


Beach/Schmidt Performing Arts Center was filled sparsely Tuesday evening for the Italian Saxophone Quartet concert, the next-to-last event in this season's FHSU Encore Series. I guess the exhausting heat plus unfamiliarity with saxophone ensembles and their repertory kept many people at home.

Too bad. Each member of the quartet -- Federico Mondelci, soprano sax; Marco Gerboni, alto sax; Mario Marzi, tenor sax; and Massimo Mazzoni, baritone sax -- proved himself a virtuoso. After performing a nicely varied program ranging from Bach's "Aria" to Scott Joplin's "The Easy Winners," with a little humor thrown in between selections, they received standing applause and rewarded the audience with an encore -- another Scott Joplin rag. This showed intelligence. Joplin's "Easy Winners" was the hit of the evening, so they gave us another sample of what we enjoy most.

They began with 18th-century music, Bach's "Aria," three pieces by Domenico Scarlatti and a Mozart serenade. Then they switched to 20th-century music. Three humorous pieces by Jean FranÃßaix had been written for them, as had "Tony's Song" by Michael Nyman. Mondelci, who for the most part acted as spokesman, aptly described this as "short and intense." Sandwiched in between was an effective arrangement of Samuel Barber's "Adagio."

Lighter music characterized the second half of the program. Some of it was new, at least to me, but all of it was attractive and immediately accessible. They came onto the stage playing Pedro Iturralde's "Suite Ellenica" (Hellenic Suite). "Easy Winners" followed. There was some Gershwin in there, too. They gave a brilliant performance of two pieces by tango master Astor Piazzolla, "Fugata" and "Libertango," and concluded the program with "Passerella" from Fellini's film "8 and ½" by Nino Rota.

The final event in this season's Encore Series is the award-winning Broadway musical "In the Heights," at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday in Beach/Schmidt. Call (785) 628-5308 for ticket information.

Ruth Firestone is a supporter of music and theater in Hays.