Aureole etc.

Golden Age singers

Nimbus on-line

Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

Gioacchino ROSSINI (1792-1868)
Wind Quartets
Consortium Classicum
Produced 1986. DDD Stereo
MDG GOLD MDG 301 0207-2 [70.04]


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These entertaining pieces are not quite what they seem. Rossini composed five Sonate a quattro in 1804 scoring them for two violins, cello and bass. They appeared in various arrangements by other hands during Rossini’s later life. He actively disowned them as juvenilia (a note to this effect appears on the autograph) but since they were not destroyed by him and were later dedicated to a friend one must assume he saw a certain value in the pieces. The present recording is of the arrangement by one Friedrich Berr for flute, clarinet, horn and bassoon. Berr added a sixth item from Rossini’s later youth to make up the set to a proper half-dozen.

So, is it worth hearing these pieces by a precocious twelve-year-old? Absolutely yes! They are a delight, and in the case of a couple of movements from the Quartet No.1, a familiar delight. Perhaps they have been utilised as signature tunes. Only the last item is characteristic Rossini, but then he was a mature 20 when he composed the Andante e Tema con variazioni which is here listed as Quartet No.6. I would particularly single out the andante from the 2nd Quartet, the finale of the 3rd and the bizarrely irregular rhythms of the Rondo of Quartet No.5 as further pleasures.

The Consortium Classicum are a fine ensemble, particularly the flautist, and they evidently enjoyed these works because a real sense of fun emerges from the speakers as well as a good acoustic. As a brief experiment I applied surround processing to MDG’s spacious recording and found it worked rather well. I mention this because the liner notes include a puff for their "sound ideal" which mentions the naturalness of the venues they use; a pity this one fails to get a mention anywhere in the notes because it is a particularly clean and realistic sound when played in straight stereo. The musical commentary is interesting and well written, the booklet has an attractive Watteau on the front and a nice portrait of Rossini, though looking decidedly older than 12, on the back.

Dave Billinge

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