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Anton REICHA (1770-1836)
Wind Quintets (1815-17): in D major op. 91, no. 3 [25:40]; in G minor op. 91 no. 4 [42:00]
Westwood Wind Quintet
rec. 26-27 Sept, 1-2 Oct 2004, Crystal Chamber Hall, Camas, Washington. DDD

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 and effervescence.

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 Reed Society.

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.

Rob Barnett



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