Paul HINDEMITH (1895-1963)
Kleine Kammermusik, Op. 24, No. 2 (1922) [13:45] GyŲrgy LIGETI (1923-2006)
Six Bagatelles for Wind Quintet (1953) [11:50] Carl NIELSEN (1865-1931)
Wind Quintet, Op. 43 (1922) [24:28]
Quintett.Wien (Hansgeorg Schmeiser (flute); Harald HŲrth (oboe);
Pachinger (clarinet); Martin BrambŲck (horn); Maximilian Feyertag
rec. June 2001, Wiener Konzerthaus, Vienna, Austria DDD NIMBUS NI 5728 [50:06]
This CD contains three of the most important wind quintets of
the twentieth century. With its rather short timing, however,
there would have been room for at least one additional quintet,
such as Samuel Barberís Summer Music. Nimbus could have included
Ligetiís Ten Pieces for Wind Quintet as well. Nonetheless, the
three works here provide plenty of musical interest and variety.
The Hindemith work belongs to some extent to his series of Kammermusik
works, though it is the only one scored for wind quintet. The
others are for chamber orchestra and a solo instrument with
the exception of the first, which is incidentally Op. 24, No.
1 and scored for orchestra alone. Like the Kammermusik, the
Op. 24, No. 2 is representative of Hindemithís early period.
It is in the neo-Baroque mode typical of this period and contains
much wit and no little humor. For someone coming to the work
for the first time, this performance leaves nothing to be desired.
It is beautifully played and recorded. Indeed, you can almost
touch the instruments themselves. This is true for the other
works on the disc as well. For the seasoned Hindemithian, however,
the work is also available as part of the set of the complete
Kammermusik works on a two-disc set on Decca with members of
the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra under Riccardo Chailly. The
performance there, while not as beautiful as this one, is livelier
and brings out the humor more. Still Quintett.Wienís account
is idiomatic in a more Germanic way.
Ligetiís Six Bagatelles is quite possibly his most popular work
and a staple of most wind quintets. Composed in the early 1950ís,
it is an arrangement of selections from his piano work, Musica
Ricercata and is representative of his early period before
he emigrated to the West and found his most original voice.
Though the work shows the influences of both Bartůk and Stravinsky,
it contains much originality in its use of color and especially
humor. The problem with the current performance is that it is
almost too beautiful. The Viennese perform it very well, but
are afraid to make an ugly sound. Much of Ligetiís humor depends
on his fondness for the grotesque and his sense of timing. A
quick comparison with the recording by the London Winds in Sonyís
Ligeti Edition (Volume 7 containing the Chamber Works) shows
whatís missing here. The bassoon does not squawk the way it
should and the horn is not nasty enough when that quality is
what is called for. In many ways the performance by Quintett.Wien
reminds me of another one on Sony by the Ensemble Wien-Berlin,
but this one is a bit lighter than the Wien-Berlinís.
Nielsenís Wind Quintet is a product of his maturity, unlike
the Hindemith or Ligeti. It is certainly one of his greatest
works, along with the wind concertos and the symphonies. Indeed,
Nielsen was so taken with the performance by the Copenhagen
Wind Quintet, for which it was written, that he decided to compose
a concerto for each of the instruments in the quintet. Unfortunately,
he finished only the Flute and Clarinet concertos before he
died in 1931. Again, the Quintett.Wien plays the piece very
well, with many lovely solos, if without quite the character
that New London Chamber Ensemble projects in their account on
Meridian, containing Nielsenís works for wind and piano, that
I reviewed for this website. Just listen, for example, to the
clarinet solo in the fifth variation of the final Theme and
Variations movement. The New London Ensembleís performance reminds
me more than any other of the Cat in Peter and the Wolfófull
of character and humor. In comparison, Quintett.Wienís account
is certainly lively enough and well performed, but lacks the
willingness to make a raucous sound.
As a selection of twentieth-century works for wind quintet,
this is recommendableóif one is interested in these particular
pieces together on one CD. The recorded sound alone makes this
very attractive and the performances of their kind are first-rate.
If, however, your primary interest is in one or more of the
composers here, I would recommend the individual recordings
I described above, each of which contains works of a single
composer superbly performed.
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