ALBUM TITLE: Collection: 20th-Century Wind Quintets
WORKS: Kleine Kammermusik, Op. 24/2; Summer Music; Quattro tempi; Mládí
PERFORMER: Michael Thompson Wind Quintet; Michael Harris (bass clarinet)
CATALOGUE NO: 8.553851
The wind quintet began in the early 19th century, but most of the masterpieces of its repertoire belong to the 20th. On Naxos, the British quintet led by the horn player Michael Thompson plays Hindemith’s entertaining ‘Little Chamber Music’ and Samuel Barber’s rhapsodic Summer Music, together with a less familiar but very fresh ‘divertimento’ by the Swede Lars-Erik Larsson; and it co-opts a bass clarinet for Janácek’s extraordinary Youth, a reminiscence of childhood written at the age of 70. An attractive programme, and the performances are accomplished and affectionate – though the recording places the bassoon too far forward, and the horn too far away.
Vol. 9 of Koch Schwann’s series by the German Aulos Quintet (and there’s still plenty of good stuff left) offers a mostly Hungarian programme, neatly planned with Ligeti’s early Bagatelles and startlingly virtuosic Ten Pieces enclosing a pair of short, spiky quintets from the late Fifties by Mátyás Seiber and the young György Kurtág, and a pair of slow-fast diptychs from the late Sixties by Ligeti’s teacher Sándor Veress and the Russian Edison Denisov. The playing, individual and collective, is outstanding, with an enormous dynamic range. Again, the horn sounds a little distant; but don’t let that put you off this exceptional disc. Anthony Burton