> Woodwind Treasures [KR]: Classical CD Reviews- Sept 2002 MusicWeb(UK)

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Woodwind Treasures

KLUGHARDT (1847-1902) Quintet, Op. 79
Luciano BERIO (1925-) Opus Number Zoo
George HEUSSENSTAMM (1926–) Woodwind Quintet Seven Etudes
Robert PILINN (1925 – 1999) Scherzo
Herman STEIN (1915–) Sour Suite
Westwood Wind Quartet
Klughardt/Berio – original recording on Crystal S250, Ó 1981
All others – original recording on Crystal S811, Ó 1971


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I can’t say enough about this group. The Westwood Wind Quintet have established themselves as one of the premiere interpreters of modern woodwind music, and this CD certainly bears that out. This 2001 recording features selections from 1971 and 1981, with two different line-ups of musicians. The following musicians are featured on these recordings: John Barcellona, Flute; Peter Christ, oboe; Calvin Smith, horn; David Atkins, clarinet; Kenneth Meyer, bassoon; Gretal Shanley, flute; Robert Henderson, horn and Kay Brightman, bassoon.

The musicality, regardless of the individual players, defines what an ensemble really is. The pieces are seamless in technical energy, colour and style. It is very interesting to compare the compositions – they are similar, very different, and uniformly well played. The Klughardt is symphonic in layout, with an allegro non troppo, allegro vivace, andante grazioso and adagio set of four movements. Although played by a small ensemble, it has the richness and depth of a symphony. This reviewer would like to see this piece re-arranged for a chamber ensemble of thirty or so instruments.

The Berio piece is the weakest of all the selections – it requires that each instrumentalist "speak" a section of the work. Although they are all admirable instrumentalists, their spoken word leaves much to be desired – an actor or orator would be preferable.

The Heussenstamm work has some unique details that are covered in detail in the libretto – the work has an almost mathematical precision, and is presented very well on this recording.

Pillin’s Scherzo, Linn’s Woodwind Quintet and Stein’s Sour Suite should be in the repertoire of any small ensemble. The fact that the Westwood Quintet has worked so hard to keep these pieces in the repertoire speaks volumes about their dedication to their instruments which in this recording live on for future generations to discover and enjoy.

In this day and age - when many classical radio stations, stores or venues never or barely give space to any modern works, it is a joy to see this and the other fifteen albums still in print and available. This disc should be welcome on any classical music lovers’ shelf.

Kelly A Rinne

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