Reicha: Quintet in B flat; Octet in E flat, Op. 96

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COMPOSERS: Reicha
LABELS: CPO
WORKS: Quintet in B flat; Octet in E flat, Op. 96
PERFORMER: Consortium Classicum/Dieter Klöcker (clarinet)
CATALOGUE NO: 999 742-2 ADDReissue (1974)
It’s good news indeed that CPO is planning to reissue all of Consortium Classicum’s invigorating Seventies recordings for EMI Electrola. The bulk of this material was concentrated in a number of thematic boxed sets of LPs which placed some of the wind and string chamber music of Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven and Schubert in the context of relatively unknown works by their friends and pupils. I seem to remember that the Beethoven collection in particular contained many rewarding experiences, not least these refined and elegant compositions by the Bohemian Anton Reicha.

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Given his considerable expertise at writing for wind ensemble, it is little surprise that Reicha was able to create a work of substance from the highly unusual combination of solo bassoon and strings. The resultant one-movement Quintet is an object lesson in good craftsmanship and invention with a delightful sequence of variations that exploit moods ranging from sobriety to playfulness very effectively. Even more attractive is the large-scale Octet, a work that was surely modelled on Beethoven’s Septet. Although Reicha’s thematic ideas may be less striking than those of Beethoven, there’s a great deal of contrapuntal ingenuity in the development of material, and the members of Consortium Classicum clearly relish the many opportunities for interplay and virtuosity. The recording ambience is a touch on the dry side, but this does not detract from a very enjoyable release. Erik Levi