Aureole etc.

Golden Age singers

Nimbus on-line

Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Flute Quartet in C K.Anh.171 (1778) [16.11]
Carl Maria Von WEBER (1786-1826)

Clarinet Quintet in Bb Op.34 (1811) [27.30]
Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918)

Sonata for flute, viola and harp (1915) [18.13]
Maurice RAVEL (1875-1937)

Introduction and Allegro (1905) [11.05]
rec St Michael’s Church, Highgate, London in April 1998
EMI CLASSICS DEBUT SERIES 7243 5 73162 2 4 [73.03]


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A notable and highly enjoyable disc, not only for its exceedingly high standard of performance but also for the choice of repertoire, which begins with classical and early romantic chamber music followed by two French impressionist masterpieces. This is a talented ensemble of seven players from four different countries, excelling among them the fine clarinettist Robert Plane, whose sparkling playing in Weber’s Clarinet Quintet is remarkable (especially in the good-humoured Rondo - Track 6: 4’19"), and the mellifluous flute playing of Lorna McGhee who features in all the other works. Mozart’s flute quartet is dominated (in its second and final movement) by a set of variations on a charmingly memorable tune (the more striking considering how much Mozart hated the instrument) and including a wistful adagio, but McGhee’s talents are best displayed in Debussy’s sonata in which she develops a wide palette of tonal colour (Track 8: 4’20"). This is not to deny the supporting roles their due accolades, in particular the warm-toned viola playing of Ashan Pillai and stylishly discreet textures achieved by harpist Alison Nicholls, with the three of them giving a wonderfully robust account of the sonata’s finale. Finally the whole ensemble come together for a ravishing performance of Ravel’s fine Introduction and Allegro, achieving textures of almost orchestral proportions at times (Track 10: 01’50") belying their far smaller number, with Nicholls once again taking a prominently stylish role, despite one or two slightly mistuned notes in her instrument’s intonation. This is the work whose manuscript score Ravel, in a hurry to catch (and miss as it happens) a yachting expedition, famously left on the counter of a shirt shop, where he had called to collect items for the trip. Luckily for him and posterity the chemisier had a pretty shrewd idea of the significance of what he had, so he kept the music until the composer came back for it.

Christopher Fifield

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