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Anton REICHA (1770-1836)
Woodwind Quintets Volume 4
Woodwind Quintet in C major op. 91 no. 1 (1818-19) [30:26]
Woodwind Quintet in A minor op. 91 no. 2 (1818-19) [40:01]
Westwood Wind Quintet (John Barcellona (flute); Peter Christ (oboe); Eugene Zoro (clarinet); Charles Kavalovski (horn); Patricia Nelson (bassoon))
rec. 19-20, 22-23 Jan 2005, Crystal Chamber Hall, Camas, Washington. DDD
Experience Classicsonline

Here are two sturdy wind quintets of symphonic proportions.
I have written about the steadfast commitment of Naxos to their myriad large-scale series. How much more surprising is the commitment of diminutive but tenacious firm Crystal to this Reicha series (see reviews of Volume 5, Volume 6 and Volume 9). Their discs have been appearing reliably if in non-sequential volume order. Those later volumes were issued before this one.
Prague-born Reicha learnt French and German early on. Possibly influenced by Rosetti's wind quintet, Reicha went on to write more than 24 such quintets which the Westwood Quintet are in processing of recording. The ensemble includes the oboe of Crystal's guiding hand, Peter Christ.
The music is recorded warmly and closely but with sufficient headroom to avoid an oppressive effect. The first has a first movement that for me links with Beethoven's Pastoral - complete with birdsong. After a steady Andante comes an inventive and light-heartedly skipping Menuetto which makes beaming and pleasingly repeated use of a ‘sunrise’ figure. The finale moves between Jovian majesty and joviality. The playing throughout is very agreeable allowing for some slight lack of agility from the horn (I, op. 91 no. 2). The second quintet here feels more conventional than the first but even so there is some lovely writing in the Andante. Reicha is a surprising composer often introducing presciently romantic gestures into these canvases.
The whole disc is substantially done with a 16 page booklet full of rewarding context. This includes a page or two of Reicha's reminiscences and Charles-David Lehrer's analyses of the two works.
Rob Barnett


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