Aureole etc.

Golden Age singers

Nimbus on-line

Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett


Carl NIELSEN (1865-1931)
Wind Quintet Op 43 (1922)
Paul HINDEMITH (1895-1963)

Kleine Kammermusik für fünf Bläser Op 24 No 2 (1922)
Ervín SCHULHOFF (1894-1942)

Divertissement for Oboe, Clarinet and Bassoon (1926)
Westwood Wind Quintet
Recorded 1966 (Schulhoff) and 1968 (Nielsen and Hindemith)

Crystal is revisiting its LP catalogue. In its day – and its day was 1966-68 - this compilation had very little competition but there are now a number of choices available in an increasingly competitive market. What makes this disc of value is the playing, which is tonally eloquent and technically adept and the still fine sounding recording. Both the Hindemith and Nielsen have been coupled by the Bergen, Prague New York and Swiss Wind Quartets. The old Melos version of the Nielsen from 1967 may still be around and the Oslo Wind Quartet have given a good account on Naxos. The Schulhoff however is still something of a rarity. Lammers-Hermann and Groth have played it on Schwann and the Divertimento Trio on Fermate have also recorded it. No one has coupled all three of these works apart from the Westwood – appositely since they were all written between 1922 and 1926.

Whenever I listen to the Nielsen Quintet I dig out the 1936 recording made by the dedicatees, the Wind Quintet of the Royal Orchestra Copenhagen (recently available on Claremont and Danacord). Four of the original members were still there, fourteen years after they’d premiered it, and the points of departure between their rubato, rich and fluctuating sense of motion and the modern single tempo performances are always instructive, as here. The Westwood are more gimlet-eyed and sound more fresh than the older players; there’s a sense of undeviating direction and a build up of steam that’s attractive if not perhaps entirely alive to any darker purpose. The Minuet though is excellently phrased and bright and alertly played. It’s in the Praeludium and Variational finale that things really do diverge. Interestingly first recorded performances tend to be brisker and less indulgent but here the Westwood are far more direct and speedy than the 1936 Quintet. I doubt however if anyone but the Wind Quintet of the Royal Orchestra Copenhagen has made this movement sound quite so sinuous and insinuating in its opening paragraphs – it’s a pity that their recording was always a bit dimly recessed – or has conveyed the slow moving grandeur better. Most contemporary quintets stress the public "discordance" of this movement but the 1936 recording seems to absorb these elements into the flux of the work without undue show. By contrast the Westwood are just that bit too sharply etched, don’t prepare for the baroque themes quite well enough, fail to unfold the music with imperceptible logic and sound just a mite too exterior.

They are more at home in the Hindemith, which receives a generally fine performance. They are particularly successful in the mordant little Waltz second movement and take care to ensure that the oboe tune remains in tempo in the third movement. Their finale (Sehr lebhaft) is charmingly done, well balanced and at a good tempo. The Schulhoff Divertissement is written for oboe, clarinet and bassoon and is in seven brief movements. There’s a loquacious Overture with fugal pretensions and plenty of witty registral games, a lazy, languorous and pert Romanzero. The Charleston is a glinting, darting, hinting one that never gets explicit (unlike say the Martinů Charleston in La Rêvue de cuisine, which dates from five years later, 1927). The Theme and Variations are excellently accomplished in this performance and the curiously named Florida movement has strong unison work. This is a fine performance of an uneven but likeable work that should be heard more often.

As such it may tip the scale if you want the Schulhoff. For the Nielsen I’d go elsewhere but there are two strong performances here and the sound quality has scrubbed up very nicely indeed.

Jonathan Woolf


Return to Index

Untitled Document

Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
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.