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   with Winds

French Chamber Music for Winds

K.617 160

Théodore Gouvy

Septet (1887)
Octet, Op. 71 (1882)
Petite Suite Gauloise, Op. 90 (1888)

Les Solistes de Prades/Michel Lethiec
K.617 K617160 56:02

These three works are for various combinations of wind instruments. They display considerable charm and wit, and are recorded with unusual spaciousness. Anyone who has succumbed to the wind quintets of Danzi or Krommer will find much to enjoy.

[ Available on CD: Amazon - UK - Germany - Canada - France ]

[ Sheet music by this composer: Sheet Music Plus - ]

Wind Music from an Opera Composer

Naxos 8.553076

Franz Danzi

Three Wind Quintets, Op. 56 (1819-20)
Sextet in E Flat Major for 2 Horns, 2 Clarinets & 2 Bassoons

Michael Thompson Wind Quintet
Naxos 8.553076 73:20

Naxos has recorded several albums of Danzi's music for wind ensemble and it's also available on other labels. As you'd expect, there's a lot of Mozart, Haydn and Beethoven in these unfailingly charming works.

[ Available on CD: Amazon - UK - Germany - Canada - France - Japan - ArkivMusic - CD Universe ]

[ Sheet music by this composer: Sheet Music Plus - ]

French Works for Winds

Atma ACD2-2224

Adolphe Blanc

Septet for Clarinet, Horn, Bassoon, Violin, Viola, Cello & Double Bass, Op. 40
Trio for Clarinet, Piano & Cello, Op. 23
Quintet for Piano, Flute, Clarinet, Horn & Bassoon, Op. 37

Les Vents de Montréal
Atma ACD2-2224 73:20

Apart from his work as a composer, Blanc worked as a violinist in chamber groups and in orchestras in Paris. His compositions were almost exclusively chamber works. The delightful music on this CD makes one wonder at his long neglect; the opening theme of the trio, for example, is one that Schubert would not have disowned.

[ Available on CD: Amazon - UK - Germany - Canada - France - Japan - ArkivMusic ]

Master of Fluent Technique

Supraphon SU3487-2

Zdeněk Fibich

Quartet for Violin, Viola, Cello & Piano in E minor, Op. 11 (1874)
Quintet for Piano, Clarinet, Horn, Violin & Cello in D Major, Op. 42 (1894)

Marián Lapšanský, piano
Ludmila Peterková, clarinet
Vladimira Klánská, horn
Jirí Panocha, violin
Jaroslav Kulhan, cello
Supraphon SU3487-2 63:31

Fibich is generally regarded as the greatest of the Czech composers of the nineteenth century after Smetana and Dvořák, and although he wrote in a number of genres, he's best remembered for his orchestral, piano and operatic music. The opening of the piano quartet makes it clear that you are listening to the work of a Czech, but Fibich was no imitator. Both these works are immediately attractive, not least because of the unusual combination of instruments in the quintet, in which Fibich uses especially the horn to good effect.

[ Available on CD: Amazon - UK - Germany - Canada - France - Japan - ArkivMusic - CD Universe ]

[ Sheet music by this composer: Sheet Music Plus - ]

Poulenc's Chamber Music

Naxos 8.553612

Francis Poulenc

Sonata for Violin & Piano (18:26)
Sonata for Piano & Cello (21:51)
Sonata in B Flat Major for Clarinet & Piano (13:24)
Bagatelle "Le bal masqué" in D minor for Violin & Piano (2:17)

Graf Mourja, violin
Ronald van Spaendonck, clarinet
Françoise Groben, cello
Alexandre Tharaud, piano
Naxos 8.553612

The Sonata for Clarinet and Piano was one of the last works composed by the prolific Poulenc, as part of a set of three wind sonatas never completed. The characteristics of Poulenc's style are all here – great wit, kaleidoscopic moods, shifting harmonies that skitter around but do not disturb the impression of tonality, discords that skip by so quickly that they are hardly noticeable, and in the slower movements, nostalgia, longing, and sweet melody.

The other pieces on this disc, as well as the other volumes in this series, are all highly recommended.

Volume I - Naxos 8.553611
Volume III - Naxos 8.553613
Volume IV - Naxos 8.553614
Volume V - Naxos 8.553615
[ Available on CD: Amazon - UK - Germany - Canada - France - Japan - ArkivMusic - CD Universe ]

[ Sheet music by this composer: Sheet Music Plus - ]

British Clarinet Quintets

Hyperion Helios CDH55110

Arthur Somervell

Clarinet Quintet in G Major (1913)

Gordon Jacob

Clarinet Quintet in G Minor (1942)

Thea King, clarinet
The Aeolian Quartet
Hyperion Helios CDH55110 57:44

Somervell is remembered most for his choral works and song cycles but there are recordings of some other works, including a violin concerto. His Clarinet Quintet is a fairly genial work which shows most the influence of Brahms.

Jacob's quintet is in much the same realm as Vaughan Williams' more ethereal works such as the oboe concerto, although with some touches of gruff humor. The clarinet quintet is hardly a prolific species and these two examples are welcome additions.

[ Available on CD: Amazon - UK - Germany - Canada - France - Japan - ArkivMusic - CD Universe ]

Smiling Through The Tears

Naxos 8.570540

Alexander Zemlinsky

Three Pieces for Cello & Piano (1891)
Sonata in A minor for Cello & Piano (1894)
Trio in D minor for Clarinet, Cello & Piano (1896)

Othmar Mueller, cello
Ernst Ottensamer, clarinet
Christopher Hinterhuber, piano
Naxos 8.570540 64:21

This fine CD was purchased primarily for the beautiful Clarinet Trio, but the cello and piano works are a fantastic discovery. They fill a long-held desire of this listener for more Brahmsian cello music. They contain melodies and rhythms and the same emotional smiling-through-tears found in Brahms. Both of the Zemlinsky cello works had been presumed lost or destroyed, and were found only recently.

The clarinet trio owes its existence even more directly to Brahms, whose own Clarinet Trio predates this one by several years. Brahms recommended the Zemlinsky Trio to the publisher, Simrock. The works on this CD are performed with great sensitivity and superb musicianship.

[ Available on CD: Amazon - UK - Germany - Canada - France - Japan - ArkivMusic - CD Universe ]

[ Sheet music and sound samples for the Trio can be found at Edition Silvertrust
  Sheet music by this composer: Sheet Music ]

To Give Pleasure

Hyperion CDA67036

Jean Françaix

"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
Hyperion CDA67036

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.

[ Available on CD: Amazon - UK - Germany - Canada - France - Japan - ArkivMusic - CD Universe ]

[ Sheet music by this composer: Sheet Music Plus - ]

Twilight of the Romantics

Çedille CDR90000088

Walter Rabl

Quartet in E Flat Major for Clarinet, Violin, Cello & Piano (1896) 24:20

Josef Labor

Quintet in D major for Clarinet, Violin, Viola, Cello & Piano, Op. 11 (1900) 33:13

Orion Ensemble
Çedille CDR90000088

Ever since Wolfgang Mozart's Kegelstadt Trio (K498), the musical combination of clarinet, strings and piano has been known to be a most felicitous chamber music sound. One is tempted to compare the works on this CD to Brahms' own Clarinet Quintet. That would be a mistake. These works can be judged on their own merits and will richly reward the listener. However it wouldn't be wrong to notice that there must have been strong Brahmsian inspiration.

I am most partial to Labor's quintet, especially the variations in the fourth movement. The entire quintet flows along gracefully, wistfully, and with the greatest charm.

The Orion Ensemble, (Jennifer Marias, Viola; Kathryne Pirtle, Clarinet; Florentina Ramniceanu, Violin; Diana Schmück, Piano; Judy Stone, Cello), have given us excellent performances of both works.

[ Available on CD: Amazon - UK - Germany - Canada - France - Japan - ArkivMusic - CD Universe ]

Master of the Wind Quintet

Naxos 8.554228

Antonín Rejcha

Wind Quintet in C minor, Op. 91 #6
Wind Quintet in F Major, Op. 88 #6

Michael Thompson Wind Quintet
Naxos 8.554228 68:41

Variously known as Antonín, Antoine or Anton Rejcha or Reicha, this Bohemian composer is probably best known for his works for wind quintet. They are unfailingly tuneful and genial, and give each of the instruments its place in the spotlight. The above CD is but one of a number of Rejcha CDs on Naxos by this ensemble, and all are worthy of investigation. There are also quintets available on CPO.

Rejcha wrote in a number of genres including a number of symphonies that have been released on several Czech labels such as Panton, concertos, choral works and operas: you may need to work harder than usual to track these down, but the rewards are worth it.

[ Available on CD: Amazon - UK - Germany - Canada - France - Japan - ArkivMusic ]

[ Sheet music by this composer: Sheet Music Plus - ]