The disc, the first in the Cameo Wind Series, begins with a
charming arrangement by David Beck of Bobby Shaftoe.
This makes excellent use of the ensemble and immediately stamps
the authority of these high quality performers on the recording.
Byrd's Earl of Salisbury Pavane is equally well suited
to this combination, the varied instrumental colours creating
interesting contrast. The disc contains a wide range of popular
classics arranged for wind quintet, alongside some original
compositions. Arrangements of Poldini's light Poupée
Valsante and Mozart's Rondo alla Turca are programmed
beside works by Franco Margola and Franco Mannino. The nine
arrangements, commissioned by Irving Wilson, are universally
successful. They are sensitively scored with understanding for
the instruments and their relative strengths. The Gavotte
from Prokofiev's Classical Symphony is wonderfully
light and impressively balanced in an excellent arrangement
by Adrian Staines, and Gordon Lewin's arrangements of Mussorgsky's
Gopak has a wonderful sense of fun.
The Hallé Wind Quintet comprises principal players of
the Hallé Orchestra; it is evident that they are used
to working together and their sound is unified and well balanced.
This disc includes arrangements from other members of the orchestra
(David Beck and Adrian Staines), and the Italian composers featured
here are linked to Manchester's players through film work
Franco Mannino conducted and arranged the music for the Visconti
films, Death in Venice and Ludwig.
Nunzio Montanari's Five Inventions for Wind Quartet
make use of repeated rhythmic and melodic fragments in this
carefully scored work. The cheerful opening movement gives way
to a more sentimental chorale-style andante. The third
of the inventions is a lullaby, with solo moments for each of
the instruments embellishing the melodic line. The fourth movement
is faster, and the fifth is faster still, providing the players
with a sparkling display of ensemble virtuosity to bring the
work to a close.
More modernist in style, Franco Mannino's Mini Quintet
uses bitingly dissonant language to create an exciting opening
movement, with rapid movement and an energetic character. The
central chorale is based on a moving chord progression, once
again using modernist harmonies to explore the sonorities of
the wind quintet. The finale takes on the mood of a scherzo,
and is a life-enhancing display of virtuoso technique. A wonderfully
light-hearted movement, this is playful and boisterous throughout.
A second work by Mannino, A Little Music for Three Friends,
for flute, violin and viola, is in two movements. The allegro
is particularly challenging for the flute, and demonstrates
Roger Rostron's excellent control over his instrument.
The Divertimento for Six Instruments by Vittorio Giuliani
is scored for flute, oboe, clarinet, violin, viola and cello
and consists of five short contrasting sections. Less modernist
and more film-like than Mannino's work, this could easily
be used as a cartoon soundtrack; the fast sections bustle with
energy, while the slower sections are evocative and contemplative.
The disc ends with Franco Margola's Partita for Flute
and Oboe, written in the form of a baroque dance suite.
The individual movements are short and rather effectively fuse
baroque and twentieth century compositional styles.
The pairing of arrangements of popular classics with contemporary
Italian repertoire is perhaps somewhat unusual; this disc has
the feeling of being two discs in one. That said, Cameo have
provided us with a wonderful opportunity to hear the Hallé
Wind Quintet on CD. The recordings are of a consistently high
standard, with clear sound and some world-class playing from
Manchester's former orchestral principals.