Debussy/Ravel: Children’s Corner; Six Épigraphes antiques; Le tombeau de Couperin,

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Debussy/Ravel
LABELS: Dabringhaus und Grimm
WORKS: Children’s Corner; Six Épigraphes antiques; Le tombeau de Couperin,
PERFORMER: Calefax Reed Quintet
CATALOGUE NO: MDG 619 0658-2
This group of young Dutch players is one of the finest mixed wind ensembles I have ever heard and, having never been completely convinced by the standard wind quintet as a viable medium, I’m surprised that the successful combination of oboe, clarinet, bass clarinet, alto saxophone and bassoon was not developed earlier. This format offers a very rich tonal spectrum but is also extraordinarily cohesive. Although there is no original repertoire here, the quality of these arrangements (made by members of the group) is so high that the works sound absolutely natural. The playing is stunning, with exemplary ensemble, balance and intonation and, though there are moments where extraneous breath noises are distracting, this is an otherwise outstanding achievement. In the impressive transcription and performance of Ravel’s Le tombeau de Couperin particular praise must go to the oboist Eduard Wesly for his remarkable dexterity and control in the high register, and the saxophonist Raaf Hekkema who has the ability both to blend into the texture and function in several different roles. This is essential listening for all wind enthusiasts. Tim Payne