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Ignaz Joseph PLEYEL (1757-1831)
Partitas for Winds
Partita ex Dis in E flat [11:24]
Eccossois (arr. J. Triebensee) [4:03]
Partita in B flat [18:56]
Sextet in C minor (arr. M. Pfaff) [10:44]
Partita in E flat [23:17]
Amphion Wind Octet
rec. 13-15 January 2012, Radiostudio Zurich, Switzerland
ACCENT ACC 24276 [68:24]

Ignaz Joseph Pleyel was a “scholar of Haydn,” and it would have been “fortunate for the musical world if Pleyel could succeed in replacing Haydn during his lifetime.” His music can be “excellently written and very pleasing”. Those are the words of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, written in 1784, when Pleyel was 26 (and Mozart 28, and Haydn 52). Besides being an important composer, Pleyel was a successful music publisher - on the company roster: Haydn, Beethoven, Clementi, Dussek - and founder of the piano company which bore his name. His string quartets are truly noteworthy, as you may know from previous discs on which they’ve appeared: Naxos 8557496 and 8557497 and CPO 7775512.
Here we have his music for wind ensemble, or arranged for wind ensemble by himself or others. The arrangements, it should be noted, never feel like they’re second thoughts, being as idiomatic and as delightfully written as the originals. For fans of wind music, this disc is a total delight.
Pleyel’s idiom is what you’d expect from a “scholar of Haydn” so-called by Mozart. There’s gaiety, tunes aplenty, and great care taken to use each of the six to eight woodwind instruments well. Even the bassoon parts have interest for the players: the sextet in C minor begins with a bassoon solo so delightful I can’t begin to describe it, except that it slides up and down the scale with a wink. Perhaps credit goes to the arrangement by Martin Pfaff, who also calls upon the horns for some tricky duets.
There are plenty of other fun bits, like the brief Scottish air, written to capture another of the century’s musical fashions, and the only truly long movement (a sonata form in the B flat partita) sustains its length just fine. This music may never be unforgettable, but it’s always enjoyable. Diverting it was meant to be, and diverting it is.
The Amphion Wind Octet plays on period instruments or accurate replicas, and indeed they contain some of the leading lights of the period-performance movement. Horn player Václav Luks has made some excellent CDs conducting Zelenka (one was a Recording of the Year here), and oboist Xenia Löffler has made distinguished appearances on Supraphon’s series of “Music from 18th Century Prague”. These are performers who’ve worked with the likes of John Eliot Gardiner (whose name is spelled wrong in their biography), Jordi Savall and Gustav Leonhardt, and they’ve been playing together for fifteen years. The sound, from a radio studio in Switzerland, is impeccable, and the booklet essay gives you all the details you could desire. The misspelling of “partita” as “parthia” and “partia” is duplicated in every language, so it may date back to Pleyel himself.
Brian Reinhart