COMPOSERS: Arnold & Tansy Davies,Bozza,Damase,Hindemith,Mozart,Pierne
LABELS: Classical Recording Company
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: Quintessence
WORKS: Works for wind quintet
CATALOGUE NO: CRC 816-2
Quintessence is a young (all-female) wind quintet, founded at the Britten-Pears School in Suffolk in 1995, and now busy not only with formal concerts but also with outreach work. On its recording debut, confidently labelled ‘disc one’, the players tackle two minor masterpieces of the 20th-century repertoire, Hindemith’s witty Little Chamber Music of 1922 and Jean-Michel Damase’s metrically ingenious Variations of 1951, and a recent commission from Tansy Davies, three compact and intriguing movements inspired by Australian desert landscapes.
By way of instrumental variety, there are movements from Mozart’s Divertimenti for three basset-horns, in a serviceable arrangement for oboe, clarinet and bassoon, and Malcolm Arnold’s astonishingly inventive Divertimento for flute, oboe and clarinet.
The players are highly accomplished, and well matched, though intonation is not always perfect in the upper instruments – as the unisons and swirling arpeggios of the fifth movement of the Arnold cruelly reveal.
The recording keeps the instruments in scrupulous balance, but the church acoustic makes them all sound a little larger than life. It may be the location, too, which leads the players to adopt rather slow speeds for the Hindemith and parts of the Damase, giving them an unwanted heaviness. A drier studio would help ‘disc two’. Anthony Burton