> Carl Reinecke - Musique de chambre avec cor [WH]: Classical Reviews- June 2002 MusicWeb(UK)

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Carl REINECKE (1824-1910)
Trio for oboe, horn and piano in A minor, op. 188
Nocturne for horn and piano, op. 112
Trio for clarinet, horn and piano in B flat major, op. 274.
Luc van Marcke, horn; Fabrice Melinon, oboe; Olivier Dartevelle, clarinet; Luc Devos, piano.
Recorded January/March 1997, Villa Louvigny, Luxembourg.
TIMPANI 1C1043 [57.17]
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The German composer Carl Reinecke was a contemporary of Brahms and Schumann, though he lived longer than either of them. He was very prolific, composing five operas, three symphonies, several concertos and an enormous amount of chamber music, not to mention a considerable number of cadenzas for piano concertos by Mozart and others. In addition he was a respected academic and teacher, particularly in Leipzig where he also spent thirty-five years as conductor of the Gewandhaus Orchestra and where he died at the age of eighty-six.

The music has been well chosen, with horn and piano present in each piece. The three works come together to form a coherent programme, and these French and Belgian musicians clearly have great respect for the music and make out a very good case for it.

The Op. 188 Trio begins with an arpeggio figure played by the oboe which, in spite of its simplicity, is truly memorable and stays in the mind long after the piece is over. Indeed, Reineckeís melodic gift was considerable and is quite in evidence on this disc. There is drama in these works, and also atmosphere, especially in certain passages in the Nocturne, and the music is well-conceived for these particular instruments. Itís true that the music rarely sparkles, but then, neither does the music of Brahms or Schumann for that matter. What sets this apart from the works of his more illustrious contemporaries is a certain squareness which comes from too many regular phrase lengths, and the workmanlike way in which he develops his themes which leads one to conclude that although the music rarely descends to the level of predictability, the feeling of inevitability that the greatest music demonstrates, the conviction that the material has been worked into its only possible form, is largely absent.

That said, the music is quite surprisingly passionate in places, aspiring very much to the same world as Brahms, but not quite achieving it. The Trio with clarinet is a good example of this, though it takes slightly more getting to know than the other works on the disc. Its finale rises to a grand and well contrived climax, yet ends in a surprising and most poetic way. Indeed, all the music is rewarding and repays the time and effort spent on it.

The disc is very well recorded and the playing extremely accomplished. The pianist, Luc Devos, has the lionís share of work to do, and he acquits himself extremely well in what is frequently a subsidiary role even when the music is at its most technically demanding. Heís extremely attentive when accompanying, but brings out very well the character of the music when the score demands it. The horn player Luc van Marcke has a sound which is very different from the English style of horn playing, with certain notes very trombone-like. His technique is awe-inspiring: he plays right in the centre of the note and with total security. His playing is most musical too. Fabrice Melinon is an oboist with a particularly pleasing tone and masterly control of phrasing. He seems to have assimilated this music perfectly. Particularly convincing is the way he leads the ear on to the ends of phrases, his sense of the direction of a melody particularly satisfying. Finally the clarinettist, Olivier Dartevelle, doesnít hesitate to employ a more piercing tone when required, in the place of his usual rich and mellifluous sound. Once again, and like all these musicians, the technical demands of the pieces hold no fear for him.

This is the kind of disc which many years ago, browsing in the original Farringdon Records in Cheapside in London, I used to see Ė and pass over Ė in the reduced section. (The cover design, showing the crusty old composer complete with long side whiskers, doesnít immediately attract the eye.) It would be a great pity if it were to meet that fate now, though, both for the quality of the music and the playing. Itís not an essential purchase, but much to be recommended to those who like to leave the motorway from time to time and explore the back roads of the romantic repertoire.

William Hedley

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