> ADASKIN Woodwind Quintets [GPJ]: Classical CD Reviews- Oct 2002 MusicWeb(UK)

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The Adaskin Collection

Woodwind Quintet no.1 (1974)
Musica Victoria for string quintet (2000)
Sonatine Baroque for unaccompanied violin (1952)
Woodwind Quintet no.2 (1993)

Bergen Wind Quintet, Thüringer Salonquintett, Jack Glatzer, violin
Recorded at Soiree Lane, Sooke, British Columbia, Canada, and the Philip T. Young Recital Hall, University of Victoria, British Columbia, February-March 2000
SOCAN MMI 05 [49:06]

Murray Adaskin was born in Toronto in 1906, and has for much of his life been an important influence in Canadian music. His own music is highly personal and beautifully crafted, with a manifest understanding of the instruments and ensembles for which it is written. The idiom – no surprise given Adaskin’s date of birth – is firmly mid-century, and influences include Hindemith, Prokofiev and Milhaud, this last being among his teachers.

We have two wind pieces at either end of the disc, enclosing two string works. The two Woodwind Quintets, separated by some nineteen years, are basically very similar, both consisting of three movements, the first two of which are comparatively extended, followed by a very brief finale. As befits the medium, the character of the music is quite light, divertimento-like, though the second quintet sets out in more solemn vein. Adaskin has a real feel for wind instruments, and understands that, when writing for this particular combination, blend is at a premium, and the composer must capitalise on the contrasting characteristics of the five instruments. He does this well, resulting in lively entertainment for both audience and players. The Bergen Quintet play well, with secure ensemble, crisp rhythm, and excellent intonation, though they’re not helped by a boxy recorded sound. On the other hand, the engineers have got the internal balance of the quintet right, which is something very much to be thankful for.

Musica Victoria was written for the group that performs it here, the Thüringer Salonquintett, two violins, ‘cello, double bass and piano. They specialise, the notes tell us, in central European light-entertainment music – waltzes and the like, some film music, and light classical music. So whether this thoughtful and slightly gloomy piece was what they were wanting is hard to say, though no doubt they were familiar with Adaskin’s style and knew something of what to expect. They give it a sympathetic, carefully prepared reading, while the composer has used the resources of the group well, exploiting the dark tones of the double bass particularly effectively.

The programme (rather short it has to be said) is completed by the Sonatine Baroque for unaccompanied violin. This is Adaskin composing for his own instrument, and the writing is superbly idiomatic. The angular first movement is followed by an Adagio of simple and affecting lyricism, forthrightly tonal in contrast to the first movement’s gritty bitonality. The final movement is a good-natured Allegro, with an expressive Allegretto as its central section. Jack Glatzer gives this absorbing and rather beautiful piece an imaginative and flexible performance.

Despite the limitations of the recording, I enjoyed the music on this disc greatly. It is engaging and full of personality, and the performances are good enough to do it ample justice.

Gwyn Parry-Jones


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