Krommer: Partitas for Wind Ensemble

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COMPOSERS: Krommer
LABELS: Naxos
WORKS: Partitas for Wind Ensemble
PERFORMER: Michael Thompson Wind Ensemble
CATALOGUE NO: 8.553868
Krommer was widely admired in his day – his string quartets were compared favourably with Haydn’s. Most rediscovery so far has focused on his wind music, finely poised between the brash simplicity of outdoor diversion and the cultivated sophistication of Mozart and Beethoven, his contemporaries. This balance is admirably reflected here, the sound more immediate than the blander first recording by the Josef Triebensee Ensemble (Etcetera, 1992). The recording has a performer’s perspective, a touch assertive but retaining distinctive instrumental tone qualities unmellowed by distance – timbres which highlight Krommer’s common technique of repeating a phrase in a contrasting colour.

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The playing is distinctive too. Allegros are urgent, the opening of Op. 45/1 at a tremendous pace, a touch anxious but very exciting. Slow movements are beautifully poised, especially the Op. 45/1 variations (which curiously lack Krommer’s trumpet interjections, ad lib but too witty to omit). The dance-derived movements are boldly articulated and shapely, especially in the Krommer finger-print of ‘two-time in three’ hemiolas in the minuets.

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The earlier Partita in E flat launches two solo horns into stratospheric displays, superbly played here. The slow movement is a miracle of harmonic economy: two chords in two keys support virtually all ten minutes of glorious lyricism. George Pratt