Ibert • Ravel

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COMPOSERS: Ibert,Ravel
LABELS: Warner
ALBUM TITLE: Ibert • Ravel
WORKS: Trois pièces brèves; Le tombeau de Couperin; plus works by Jolivet, Milhaud, Taffanel, Ligeti, Zemlinsky, Barber, Veres and Hindemith
PERFORMER: Le Vents Francais
CATALOGUE NO: 2564 63484-5

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Les Vents Français is a starry pan-European group of leading orchestral players and soloists, comprising flautist Emmanuel Pahud, oboist François Leleux, clarinettist Paul Meyer, horn player Radovan Vlatkovi´c and bassoonist Gilbert Audin. Individually, they play with attractive timbre and immaculate intonation and articulation. Collectively, they blend their colours with great finesse, within dynamics ranging from cushioned pianissimo to bright fortissimo, the latter enhanced by an upfront recording.

The two discs in this twin pack have individual themes. ‘French Wind Quintets’ includes entertaining staples of the repertoire by Ibert and Milhaud, Mason Jones’s ingenious arrangement of Ravel’s Le tombeau de Couperin, and the bustling 1876 Quintet by Paul Taffanel, a significant upholder of the French wind-music tradition. There’s also a neatly constructed Sonatine for oboe and bassoon by Jolivet. The second disc – ‘20th-Century Wind Quintets’ – contains ideal accounts of Barber’s atmospheric tone-poem Summer Music and Hindemith’s perky Little Chamber Music, as well as a performance of Ligeti’s early Bagatelles which brings out the work’s wit and seriousness alike. Rarities here are Zemlinsky’s last work, a jolly Humoreske written for American school quintets, and a reed trio by Ligeti’s teacher Sándor Veress, a dry Sonatina.

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Anthony Burton