Review: San Diego Clarinet Quintet

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Photo by Alejandra Rosales

Photo by Alejandra Rosales

It was Abraham Lincoln’s birthday and five sublime clarinets marched out “Battle Hymn of the Republic” in his honor. The Great Emancipator would have loved it.

Southwestern College played host to the San Diego Clarinet Quintet, five gifted musicians with the hottest woodwinds west of New Orleans.

Starting with the cheerful Disney classic “Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah,” the quintet quickly showed that the clarinet is a versatile instrument that can adapt to a variety of musical genres.

Claude Debussy’s six-movement “Children’s Corner Suite” showcased the band’s classical training. Each movement was played with delicate precision and often sounded like a sweet, playful lullaby.

Persian folk song “Klezmer Dances, Freylekh” was the recital’s standout piece as the quintet played with exuberant gusto. Band members stomped their feet to the beat and their joy was contagious.

Louis Armstrong’s arrangement of “Do You Know What It Means To Miss New Orleans?” was hampered by the limitations of the clarinet. The song would have better been served by a full jazz band.

Bass clarinetist Jon Crick was easily the standout performer of the quintet. He was antsy and animated looking like he was about to jump up from his seat and march down Bourbon Street. If Metallica were to ever be on the lookout for another bass player, they would be wise to sign up Crick.

The San Diego Clarinet Quintet was a handful of fun. The music was swinging and the band rousing. Woodwinds were winners.

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