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100th birthday of Mieczyslaw Weinberg on December 8, 2019.
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Availability
Quintopia
Maurice RAVEL (1875-1937)
Ma Mere l’oye suite (arr. J. Linckelmann) [15:33]
Percy GRAINGER (1882-1961)
Irish Tune from County Derry (arr. L. Chan) [3:18]
Lisbon [1:30]
Walking Tune [3:57]
Lyle CHAN
Passage (Untitled, Jan 2010) [2:44]
Calcium Night Light [5:06]
Carl NIELSEN (1865-1931)
Quintet, Op. 43 [26:13]
New Sydney Wind Quintet
rec. February 2010, The Independent Music Centre, Sydney, Australia
Private release [58:21]

From Sydney, Australia come the sounds of an exciting young woodwind quintet self-releasing their second CD. It’s a smart blend of the familiar and the new, and it establishes the players as confident, cool, and enjoyable companions for an hour.
 
Maurice Ravel’s Mother Goose suite always leaves me wishing they’d play the whole ballet; it’s only a dozen minutes or so longer, and how can you leave out that gorgeous opening scene? Anyway, setting that global complaint aside, this is a beautiful performance, where flautist Bridget Bolliger especially gets to show off her impressionistic styling. The Percy Grainger excerpts are also very fine.
 
Lyle Chan is a composer, life-coach, and entrepreneur based in Australia. He describes himself as a “chrematist”, which is a person who makes money off other money, not a person who does cremations. His work “Passage”, which is also described as being untitled (I don’t understand), is a fun and fabulously scored tribute to the music in old cartoons like Bugs Bunny. Calcium Light Night is a gentler, more restful piece that also bodes well for this young composer.
 
Then, as is required of all young wind quintets, the New Sydney players close out with a rousing performance of Nielsen’s masterpiece in the genre. Maybe they don’t go too wild and crazy; the screeching clarinet solo at around 3:30 in the Nielsen finale is not as screeching and nutty as some rival recordings, which my eardrums are thankful for but my brain resents a bit. But they offer such professional poise that I’ll accept it as a smart interpretation.
 
The recorded sound is very good for a self-produced album: close to the performers, but not claustrophobic, and you won’t hear a cascade of clicking sounds. I wish the best on these players and hope that woodwind music lovers will take the time to hunt down the CD.
 
Brian Reinhart