WORKS: Wind Quintets, Op. 88/1, 2 & Op. 91/3
PERFORMER: Prague Wind Quintet
CATALOGUE NO: MK 0006-2
Antonín (or Anton, or Antoine) Reicha, the Bohemian-born contemporary and friend of Beethoven, later the teacher in Paris of Berlioz, Liszt, Franck and Gounod, is best remembered today for his series of 24 quintets for flute, oboe, clarinet, horn and bassoon. The Prague Wind Quintet, individual virtuosos but a well-blended team, plays three of them: in the familiar Op. 88/2, it unfortunately chooses the heavily cut standard edition (the Michael Thompson Quintet on Naxos offers the original); Op. 88/1 and Op. 91/3 (misidentified as Op. 91/9) are heard at full length, and very enjoyable they are too. But the church acoustic of the recording makes really quiet playing impossible, and suggests an oddly supercharged bassoon.
Less familiar are Reicha’s quintets for one wind instrument and strings, the subject of a continuing Consortium Classicum series. Vol. 3 has a miniature concerto for horn with stringquartet (plus the extra double-bass which Reicha recommended), paired with a more democratically virtuosic quartet for the unique combination of flute, cello, bassoon and piano. The playing is up to Reicha’s most extravagant demands, and generally spirited, although there are moments when it lapses into the routine. The recording is lifelike, but fails to bring the horn into proper focus. Anthony Burton