Classical Editor: Rob Barnett                               Founder Len Mullenger:

Franz DANZI (1763-1826)
Wind Quintet in A major, Op. 68, No. 1
Wind Quintet in F major, Op. 68, No. 2
Wind Quintet in D minor, Op. 68, No. 3
Sonata for horn and piano in E minor, Op. 44*

Michael Thompson Wind Quintet
Michael Thompson (horn) / Philip Fowke (piano)*
rec 1995, St Paul's Church, Rustall, Kent; Broomhill Theatre, Tunbridge Wells, Kent*
NAXOS 8.554694 78'54"
  AmazonUK   AmazonUS  Amazon recommendations

With this generously filled disc, Naxos complete their survey of Danzi's three sets of Wind Quintets and give us Danzi's second Horn Sonata as a substantial bonus.

Danzi's first set of three Wind Quintets (available on Naxos 8.553076) was written following the success of Reicha's ground-breaking works for this ensemble of flute, oboe, clarinet, horn and bassoon. Encouraged by his own success, Danzi published two further sets of three in the early 1820s. This time, however, Danzi dispensed with his dedication to Reicha.

The first Quintet in A major (not A minor, as the accompanying booklet has it) opens with a delightful movement. This demonstrates Danzi's skill at writing music which is totally suited to the instruments for which he is writing. A short Larghetto leads to a Haydnesque Minuetto. The final movement is a triple-time Polacca rondo with florid arpeggios for the horn. Did Elgar know these quintets when writing his own "Shed Music" fifty years later?

The second Quintet is in F major (and this time Naxos have the modality correct). A brisk and substantial Allegro is followed by an Andante slow movement which is a set of variations. The minuet has some quirky writing for the flute and leads to an Allegretto finale which gives the horn player a chance to shine.

The final Quintet, in D minor, opens with a slow introduction which allows all the instruments to show off their ability to strike a plaintive, sustained note. The ensuing Allegretto is in complete contrast, in D major, and features a syncopated melody of considerable charm. The slow movement again allows for some beautiful sustained playing from all instruments. The syncopated, minor-key Minuetto is followed by a hushed opening to the final movement. Danzi allows himself a few more surprises during the course of this Allegro assai ending to the entire set.

The Michael Thompson Wind Quintet play these works with verve, sensitivity and considerable charm. Michael Thompson takes a lead role in the Op 44 sonata, dating from 1813. This was only twelve years after Beethoven had written the first ever horn sonata. The somewhat conventional piano part, bristling with arpeggios and scales, contrasts well with the more lyrical horn part. Thompson plays this on a modern valved horn which makes for accuracy, though the more subtle tone colouring of the natural horn would have better served the slow movement. Philip Fowke manages to obtain some suitably period sounds from his modern piano.

Naxos's recording, made at two different locations in Kent, is excellent.

Chris Goddard

Return to Index

Reviews from previous months
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board.  Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.This is the only part of MusicWeb for which you will have to register.

You can purchase CDs, tickets and musician's accessories and Save around 22% with these retailers: