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Quintessenz - Leipzig Flute Ensemble (Anna Garzuly-Wahlgren; Gundrun Hinze; Ute Günther; Bettine Keyßer; Christian Sprenger)
rec. 7-10 September, 2 November, 2015 at Bethanienkirche, Leipzig, Germany
GENUIN GEN16421 [69:11]

Works for five flutes or five instruments from the flute family are certainly not common. Prior to reviewing this album, the only works for five flutes I knew of were Joseph Bodin de Boismortier’s 6 Concertos for 5 Flutes, Op.15. None of those is featured on this album. Instead, arrangements and new compositions are featured.

Quintessenz – Leipzig Flute Ensemble was founded in 1996, inspired by the wish to perform chamber music with an unusual combination of five musicians, all playing different flute instruments. Its members are players with the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, the Halle Staatskapelle and the Leipzig MDR Symphony Orchestra. The ensemble’s instrumentation consists of two flutes and one each of piccolo, alto flute and bass flute.

Except for the two original compositions, all the arrangements on this album were made by the ensemble’s piccolo player Gundrun Hinze. Giachino Rossini’s La Danza, Felix Mendelssohn’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Camille Saint-Saëns’ Dance macabre are well known and do not need introduction. Claude Debussy’s La danse de Puck - Capricieux et léger is taken from Préludes I pour piano. Franz Doppler’s Fantaisie Pastorale Hongroise, Op.26 is one of the most popular showpieces for flute, originally scored for flute and piano. Hinze’s arrangement of Marin Marais’s Les Folies d’Espagne is based on a transcription for flute solo of Marin Marais’s original.

Anže Rozman, a young Slovenian composer, worked with Quintessenz on the composition of Medusa, in which he makes use of modern playing techniques such as “explosive harmonics”, glissandi, bamboo sounds and different noise-like blowing techniques that hark back to archaic sounds of the Middle East.

Ian Clarke is a British flutist who has written many works for flute or multiple flutes. S p e l l s was written in 2014 specifically for Quintessenz, and employs a variety of modern extended techniques on flute, expertly written by the flautist-composer.

All the pieces on the album are expertly played by Quintessenz. The players draw a huge palette of tone colours from their instruments, and there are numerous extended techniques on display in many of the musical selections. The fun in their music-making is palpable. Especially impressive is the simulation of the rasping sound of an old shawm in Anže Rozman’s Medusa, helped by the group’s use of their “buzzing headjoint” with a vibrating membrane.

The booklet is in English and German, with notes by Gundrun Hinze.

This is an interesting album that should appeal to flute players and aficionados, particularly those playing in flute ensembles or those simply interested in such music.

Wai Kit Leung

Gioachino ROSSINI (1792-1868)
La Danza – Tarantella Napolitana [3:00]
Anže ROZMAN (b.1989)

Medusa (World Premiere Recording)
Act 1 - The Beauty and Athena´s Curse [5:58]
Act 2 - The Beast and the Battle of Perseus [6:48]
Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918)

La danse de Puck - Capricieux et léger from Préludes I pour piano, No. 11 [2:38]

A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Op. 21
Notturno [4:52]
Scherzo [2:36]
Lied (Song for the Fairies) [2:21]
Ein Tanz von Rüpeln (Dance of the Clowns) [1:46]
Finale [4:17]
Franz DOPPLER (1821-1883)

Fantaisie Pastorale Hongroise, Op. 26 for Flute and Piano [10:16]
Ian CLARKE (b. 1964)
S p e l l s [7:44]
Conjuring - still then emerging - Capricious - Transformation - Freely, questioning – Finale
Marin MARAIS (1656-1728)
Les Folies d’Espagne [11:15]
Camille SAINT-SAËNS (1835-1921)
Danse macabre, Op. 40 [5:32]



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