Crystal and the Westwood
Wind Quintet have set themselves the
task of recording all 24 of the wind
quintets of Prague-born Reicha. We have
reviewed some of the previous volumes
but this one - volume five in the Crystal
series - is the first to come my way.
Both the D major and
G minor quintets from Op. 91 are in
four movements. The latter is half as
long again as the D major work. The
music is often in high spirits with
conversation bubbling backwards and
forwards among the five players. The
finale of op. 91 no. 3 begins in jovial
triumph bustling along in the Apollonian
manner of the the late Mozart symphonies.
Reicha however has a gift for lissom
melodic strands to provide a touching
counterpoint to the often smiling badinage.
In the G minor Reicha starts as he did
in the case of the D major with a grave
introduction before succumbing to birdsong
These works link with
those of Weber and Rossini in their
brilliance and good nature. I cannot
however simply categorise them as cassations.
They offer emotional nourishment alongside
the bonhommie. Ideas tumble from these
quintets in gracious profusion and encompass
a broad emotional range from humour
to happiness to sorrow and tragedy.
The music is supremely
well documented by Crystal with each
volume including notes about Reicha,
different extracts from his autobiography
and background by Millard M Laing. Peter
Christ who is the oboist of the Westwood
as well as Crystal’s supremo reminds
us that scores and parts for the Reicha
24 are available to download free for
members of the International Double
This friend of Haydn
and Beethoven had a splendid gift for
invention and should not be lost from
sight or sound. Crystal’s championing
of the quintets is a unique enterprise
among the record labels.