"A huit" - Octet for Winds & Strings (20:35)
Divertissement for Bassoon & String Quintet (9:40)
Clarinet Quintet (1977) (24:32)
L'heure du Berger (1947) for Winds & Piano (7:28)
The Gaudier Ensemble
Susan Tomes, piano
The clarinet quintet is a very witty work with a toe-tapping first-movement allegro, a clever scherzando a "serious" and dreamy slow third movement followed by a good-humored rondo. The entire clarinet quintet certainly does give much pleasure, and that was Françaix's stated goal for all of his compositions. This is luscious, elegant French music at its very best.
For comical works, however, L'heure du berger (Musique de Brasserie) for winds and piano takes the prize! It is vigorous and laugh-out-loud humorous. Liner notes go on to explain more of the programmatic elements, however, this short work is a stand-alone treat. The opening is guaranteed to make you smile.
The performances on this disc are crisp and clean, and the sound is excellent. Very highly recommended.