Antoine REICHA (1770-1836)
Wind Quintets - C minor, Op. 91 No. 6; F, Op. 88 No.
Michael Thompson Wind Quintet.
Naxos 8.554228 [DDD]
Tremendously popular during Reicha's lifetime, these quintets are now well
known mainly to wind players. This is not entirely fair on them, as they
display a freshness of invention that is most invigorating. True, the music
is undemanding. The slow movements, for example, make no attempt at profundity
- rather, they are the essence of gentilité, with just a smidgen
of added gravitas to heighten the mood. The presence of C minor, rather than
indicating 'Sturm und Drang, merely points to some passing clouds in a
predominantly blue sky.
The Michael Thompson Wind Quintet relish the virtuosity of these pieces (Thompson
himself is jaw-droppingly agile in the Minuetto of Op. 88 No. 6).
Most importantly, they maintain interest throughout by careful attention
to the inner parts, which always have a good deal of life to them. To complete
the package, the sound is more than adequate. It is, I'm sure, no coincidence
that the Producer/Engineer, Mike Purton, was himself Principal Horn of the
Hallé Orchestra for many years.
The major competition comes form the Albert Schweitzer Quintet on CPO (CPO
999 02-6 for Op. 88 No. 6, CPO 999 029-2 for Op. 91 No. 6). Both versions
will delight, and if the recording quality is superior on CPO, one can
nevertheless feel completely satisfied with the Naxos.