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Bohemia
Pavel HAAS (1899-1944)
Wind Quintet, Op. 10 (1929) [13:27]
Leoš JANÁČEK (1854-1928)
Mládí – Suite for Wind Sextet (1924) [17:00]
Josef Bohuslav FOERSTER (1859-1951)
Wind Quintet in D Major, Op. 95 (1909) [19:52]
Alexander von ZEMLINSKY (1871-1942)
Humoreske for Wind Quintet (1931) [4:20]
Acelga Quintett (Hanna Mangold (flute), Sebastian Poyault (oboe), Julius Kircher (clarinet), Amanda Kleinbart (horn), Antonia Zimmermann (bassoon))
Anne Scheffel (bass clarinet)
rec. SWR Studio Kaiserslautern, Studiosaal, Germany, October 2016
GENUIN GEN17460 [54:54]

When one thinks of music composed for the wind quintet, one automatically goes back to the masterpieces of the classical and early romantic periods. Yet here is a disc presenting music composed in the twentieth century, equally as mellifluous and masterful in construction and colouring.

The first work on the disc is one I got to know some years ago now. Pavel Haas, one of the doomed Czech generation of composers that would succumb to Nazi oppression, composed his Wind Quintet, Op. 10 in 1929 the year he became Chair of the Moravian Composers’ Association, a position previously held by his teacher, Leoš Janáček. Janáček’s influence can be felt in this music, and not just in the way that Haas employed “thematic and modal method on the basis of Moravian folk songs”. Ingrid Theis suggests that it could be Haas’s goodbye to his teacher who had died the previous year. What is clear is that there are similarities between master and pupil. My other recording of this work is by the Stuttgarter Blässerquintett on Orfeo (C 386 961 A). Both ensembles give impassioned performances, but the greater clarity of this recording wins over that of the Orfeo.

Leoš Janáček’s Mládí is the most famous work on this disc. It often pops up on discs of twentieth century wind quintets, despite the fact that it calls for an extra bass clarinettist. It was a work Janáček composed in 1924 to celebrate his seventieth birthday. In it, he reminisces about his childhood. The title comes from a popular song that he quotes Mládí, zláte mládí (Youth, golden youth). It is a splendid work, one that deserves its popularity, and is typical of the composer’s later style.

Probably the least known of the composers represented on this disc is the Czech Josef Bohuslav Foerster, although in recent years there have been some very fine recordings of his orchestral and chamber music, many of which I have. That being said, this Wind Quintet in D Major is totally new to me. The 1909 work is the earliest piece on the disc, and fits in well with Foerster’s romantic style. Despite being born only five years after Janáček, he rejected the more modernist approach of his more illustrious compatriot. He preferred instead to develop his style based upon Dvořák’s romanticism, something that can be felt in this piece.

The final composer represented on this disc, Alexander von Zemlinsky, is something of an outsider here. He was actually born in Vienna, although—as the Acelga Quintett point out in their introduction to this CD—he did spend a number of years living in Bohemia. I have long enjoyed his form of late romanticism and have many recording of his music. That being said, this piece was also new to me. Destined to be the composer’s final work, it was composed shortly after he emigrated to America. Shortly after completing this charming work, he suffered a stroke from which he was to never recover. He died three years later.

This is a wonderful first disc by the Acelga Quintett, one which marks them out to be an ensemble to watch. Their playing and sense of ensemble are excellent. The recorded sound is well balanced. The booklet notes by Ingrid Theis are also excellent, making this a most enjoyable release.

Stuart Sillitoe

 

 




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