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CD: AmazonUK

A little Music for a Few Friends
Trad arr. David Beck Bobby Shaftoe
William BYRD (1543-1623) arr. Gordon Lewin Pavane - The Earl of Salisbury
Ede POLDINI (1879-1957) arr. Peter Husband Poupée Valsante
W. A. MOZART (1756-1791) arr. David Beck Rondo Alla Turca
Gordon LEWIN The Poacher
Edward MACDOWELL (1861-1908) arr. Peter Husband To a Wild Rose
Antonín DVOŘÁK (1841-1904) arr. H. Cinquavento Humoresque
Serge PROKOFIEV (1891-1953) arr. Adrian Staines Gavotte from Symphony No 1 in D, 'The Classical'
Modest MUSSORGSKY (1839-1881) arr. Gordon Lewin Gopak
Nunzio MONTANARI (1915-1993) Five Inventions for Wind Quartet
Franco MANNINO (b.1924) Mini Quintet Op 74
Vittorio GIULIANI Divertimento for six instruments
Franco MANNINO (b.1924) A Little Music for Three Friends
Franco MARGOLA (1908-1992) Partita for Flute and Oboe.
Halle Wind Quintet (Roger Rostron (flute); Barry Davies; Richard Simpson (oboe); Martin Hardy (bassoon); James Gregson (clarinet); Michael Purton (horn)) with Michael Davies (violin); John Adams (viola); Ian Rudge (cello)
rec. 1975-1976, Manchester, England
CAMPION CAMEO 2076 [57:22]
Experience Classicsonline

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.

Carla Rees



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