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Sounds of the North
Trygve MADSEN (b.1940)
Hommage Francis Poulenc for Flute, Oboe, Clarinet and Piano Op.114 [14:27]
Otto MORTENSEN (1907-1986)
Sonata for Oboe and Piano [10:49]
Niels Viggo BENTZON (1919-2000)
Sonata for Cor Anglais and Piano Op.71 [10:50]
Carl NIELSEN (1865-1931)
Quintet for Flute, Oboe, Clarinet, French Horn and Bassoon Op.43 [25:25]
Piotr Pyc (oboe/cor anglais)
Dagmara Niedziela (piano)
Maria Grochowska (flute)
Roman Widaszek (clarinet)
Tadeusz Tomaszewski (horn)
Marek Barański (bassoon)
rec. June 2015, Concert Hall of the Karol Szymanowski Music Academy in Katowice, Poland
DUX 1260 [61:30]

The album Sounds of the North on the Polish label Dux features Twentieth century woodwind music by Scandinavian composers. Except for Carl Nielsen’s Wind Quintet, neither the composers nor the works represented on the album are household names.

Trygve Madsen is a Norwegian composer and pianist. He wrote his Hommage Francis Poulenc for Flute, Oboe, Clarinet and Piano Op.114 in 1999. The finale has direct quotes from Poulenc’s Sextet for Winds and Piano, Flute Sonata, Clarinet Sonata and Oboe Sonata.

Otto Mortensen was a Danish composer, pianist and educationalist. His Sonata for Oboe and Piano was written in 1947 for the oboist of the Royal Danish Orchestra Steen Andreassen. It is an attractive work in two movements, with mostly diatonic themes. The music features contrasting rhythmic and meter groupings. The oboe is given mostly lyrical melodies for the opening movement, while the finale is more virtuosic.

There are very few sonatas written for cor anglais, so I am delighted to hear Niels Viggo Bentzon’s Sonata for Cor Anglais and Piano Op.70. It was written in 1951 for a fellow Dane, oboist Paul Tofte-Hansen. The work is made up of five sections, alternatively slow and fast. The slower sections are darker and introspective, while the fast sections are agitated and urgent.

Carl Nielsen’s Wind Quintet Op.43 is one of the most recorded wind quintets, and certainly the most popular one from the twentieth century. It was written in 1922 for the Copenhagen Wind Quintet.

Oboist Piotr Pyc is the soloist for two of the four works. His tone is full, quite typical of central European oboists. He has a habit of putting swells on notes that I find distracting to listen to. Pyc’s playing is expressive, but his intonation does wander a little. In the works by Madsen and Nielsen, the tuning of the ensemble is not always perfect, some chords sound not perfectly in tune.

The 27-page booklet in Polish and English is excellent and provides extensive information on the composers and the works featured, which is particularly important in this case given their obscurity.

I am not aware of any other recording of the Madsen Hommage or Bentzon’s Cor Anglais Sonata, and there is only one other recording of the Mortensen Oboe Sonata, in a superior performance by oboist Max Artved on a Dacapo CD of Danish oboe works. Despite the fact that the playing is good rather than stellar this CD makes an admirable choice for anyone interested in woodwind music.

Wai Kit Leung


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