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Flames: Swedish Woodwind Quintets
Rolf MARTINSSON (b. 1956) Coloured Flames (2003-2004) [11:40]
Gunnar de FRUMERIE (1908-1987) Suite for Woodwind Quintet (1973) [18:53]
Daniel BÖRTZ (b. 1943) Winter Pieces 2 (1982, 2004) [11:37]
Hilding ROSENBERG (1892-1985) Quintetto (1959) [22:59]
Amadé Quintet: Susanne Hörberg, flute; Bengt Rosengren, oboe; Niklas Andersson, clarinet; Hans Larsson, horn; Henrik Blixt, bassoon.
Rec. Swedish Radio, Stockholm, S3, 13 May, 5, 7, 8 Oct 2004. DDD
DAPHNE 1019 [65:46]


The contrast between the de Frumerie and Martinsson pieces is stark. Martinsson’s single movement work is Bergian in idiom. This is for the most part melancholically ruminative although it does stir its thews towards the end; no conflagration though. Think in terms of a meeting of minds between Berg, Nielsen and Bernard van Dieren. The poetic Suite by Gunnar de Frumerie echoes with a sensibility that is part Baroque and part romantic. The movements are Introduction and Fugue; Saraband, Siciliano with four variations and ending with a cheery Tarantella. Woodwind quintets usually do ‘cheery’ to a tee and that’s certainly the case with the final movement of this work.

Börtz has no truck with cheeriness. His players squeal and buzz. His Winter Pieces 2 is about the same length as the Martinsson. There is more poetic substance in the Börtz notably during its Martinů-like intensely incessant chirruping. At that point it recalls the start of the Czech composer’s Sixth Symphony. Towards the end the cycling and bubbling motif slows steadily but not before reminding us of similar writing in Nielsen’s Fifth Symphony.

The Rosenberg Quintet carries the marking ‘Ekbacken, 29th July 1959’. The work stands close to the centre of his sequence of a dozen string quartets. He began writing his last six quartets in 1956. Bengt Emil Johnson, in his liner-note, points out that all twelve of the string quartets are written in ‘free twelve tone technique’ and that the quintet is redolent of the landscape around Skåne. The work is suffused with birdsong, pastoral atmosphere, shafts of sunlight and nature scenes. This is all irradiated with an unintimidating twelve-tone language that registers naturally without academic awkwardness.

The recording is larger than life with plenty of depth and width. The notes are in English, Swedish and German.

The title ‘Flames’ is as good as any other but is simply a ‘coathanger’ from which to suspend this pleasing contemporary woodwind collection drawn from the riches of Sweden’s production during the last half century.

Another fine and well-chosen production from Daphne. I am looking forward with even greater anticipation to the release later this year (2005) of their recording of the Wirén string quartets 2-5 (Lysell Quartet, Daphne 1021). Not long now, I hope!

Rob Barnett

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