MusicWeb International One of the most grown-up review sites around 2024
60,000 reviews
... and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here Acte Prealable Polish CDs

Presto Music CD retailer
Founder: Len Mullenger                                    Editor in Chief:John Quinn             

Some items
to consider

new MWI
Current reviews

old MWI
pre-2023 reviews

paid for

Acte Prealable Polish recordings

Forgotten Recordings
Forgotten Recordings
All Forgotten Records Reviews

Troubadisc Weinberg- TROCD01450

All Troubadisc reviews

FOGHORN Classics

Brahms String Quartets

All Foghorn Reviews

All HDTT reviews

Songs to Harp from
the Old and New World

all Nimbus reviews

all tudor reviews

Follow us on Twitter

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Contributing Editor
Ralph Moore
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger

Support us financially by purchasing from

Belle Époque
French Music for Wind
Orsino Ensemble
Pavel Kolesnikov (piano - Yamaha CFX, Serial no. 6390900)
rec. July 11-13, 2020, Henry Wood Hall, London.
Download of the 24-bit, 96KHz surround (five-channel) flac file from

This album was already discussed in May by my colleague, Stuart Sillitoe. Although Stuart reviewed the SACD incarnation of this recording, it seems he was dealing with the stereo layer, while I’ll be writing about the surround incarnation. This review appears a bit later than I originally expected because I undertook a substantial overhaul to my audio system and my attached computer system, which took a bit of time to “normalize”, as it were.

Although I’ve read some reviews by listeners interested in this album from a wind-playing point of view, I specifically requested it for review because I’ve been so overwhelmed by the playing of pianist Pavel Kolesnikov on his past recordings, especially in such titles as his Louis Couperin recital and the Bach Goldberg Variations, both on the Hyperion label. In my view, Kolesnikov has a genius for lightening up and clarifying the textures of the music he plays to an uncommon (almost unworldly) degree, and I was eager to hear what he might do in a collaborative musical relationship with the wonderful players of the Orsino Ensemble.

I had not heard the Roussel Divertissement before, and was delighted to make its acquaintance — this is one happy sounding piece! It’s also the only work on this album in which the entire Orsino Ensemble plays at the same time, and it’s a real display vehicle for the wind players, while the piano participates in proceedings, as Roger Nichols observes in the booklet notes, “almost entirely to provide a harmonic cushion”, although it does get a couple of melodic fragments from time to time, and even a well-behaved mini glissando near the beginning. (The very opening requires the two hands of the piano part to be placed in a rather awkward position relative to each other — Roussel was not a pianist!) Throughout the performance, the balance among the players is impeccable (as it is throughout the entire recording), and the wind players dovetail their exchanges superbly.

The two Debussy works for clarinet and piano were both composed as conservatory test pieces, with the short Petite Pièce intended to show the player’s sight-reading ability. Nichols writes that the work’s “dotted rhythms must never degenerate into triplets”. However, that’s exactly what happens in the last three bars of this performance — and I don’t mind it at all. Debussy marks this section “Un peu retenu”, and I think you have to allow the clarinetist some freedom of expression here. Overall, Matthew Hunt performs superbly, and I also welcome his hints of subtle vibrato which also enhance the expressive dimensions of this performance. Well done!

Hunt’s subtle vibrato is also to be heard, again to excellent effect, in the much more substantial Première Rhapsody. Although I’d guess that most listeners would prefer to hear this work in its orchestral guise, I’m truly impressed at the arresting nuances which Kolesnikov coaxes from his beautiful sounding Yamaha instrument. The only parts I could bring myself to criticize here might be a couple of instances where I thought Kolesnikov could have been more assertive, even though the balance for the most part is once again exemplary. And Hunt surmounts all the “awe and terror” (Nichols again) of the clarinet writing with the kind of panache which disguises just how difficult it all is. Both players succeed in conveying the full dynamic range of the work.

Saint-Saëns’ Romance for Horn and Piano derives its aria-like atmosphere from its origins as a movement from the composer’s Suite for Cello and Piano, where that instrument sings with operatic fervor. But the horn can do so too, and Alec Frank-Gimmell presents the work as euphoniously as I can imagine — a gratifying experience! The same composer’s Caprice sur des airs danois et russes (the two nationalities belonging to Tsarina Maria Fedorovna, who was born in Denmark) alternates folk tunes, one from each country, and each with a set of variations, some of which are nothing short of dazzling, with the flurries of notes generating some hugely entertaining kinetic energy. I fail to understand how any listener could not be won over by the high spirits and virtuoso display of this work! The performance here certainly generates all the sparks one could wish for, especially on the part of the piano (Kolesnikov) and the flute (Adam Walker).

With the Chaminade Concertino, we’re once again dealing with a work which has an orchestrated alternative to the piano part. But here again, Kolesnikov’s piano work is so full of color and nuance that one hardly misses the presence of an orchestra. (Incidentally, the origin of both versions has given rise to conflicting histories, with one source I checked indicating that Chaminade made the orchestral version first, and then made a piano reduction, while most sources report that the piano version was produced first, with the work later orchestrated for a London concert featuring soloist Marguerite de Forest Anderson, a friend of the composer.) This ubiquitous work has become the bane of aspiring flutists everywhere, and they could hardly do better than to model their playing after Adam Walker’s faultless performance here, with its wide-ranging dynamics and appealing tonal variations in the contrasting sections.

The Koechlin Nocturnes constitute the “something completely different” portion of the program on this album, in the sense that they brood within a seeming darkness, rather than emote within the relative light of the other works. Walker and Frank-Gemmill again prove outstanding in conveying the serious moods of the two pieces, which, while substantial and worthwhile within their limited time span, were published for the first time only as recently as 1989!

In terms of timing, the most substantial work on the album is Caplet’s Wind and Piano Quintet. Like George Butterworth and so many others of note, Caplet had his life tragically shortened by World War I, where he was exposed to poison gas while fighting in the trenches and died from the complications a few years later. Although the playing in this work is just as outstanding as on the rest of the program, I have to differ with my colleague, Stuart, in finding the Quintet itself, with its neoclassical gestures (which he rightly points out) just a little disappointing. I hear some of its sections as just a bit conventional or even veering toward the academic. However, this comment certainly does not apply to the brief Scherzo, which has all the breeziness and wit of the best French music. And do I detect a phrase or two of some Dorian-mode action here? My ears are telling me I did, but the score is unfortunately not available on IMSLP, so I can’t confirm it.

The program finishes with Debussy’s celebrated “Syrinx” for solo flute. Almost any flutist who was anybody left a record of what he or she could do with this evocative work, with its fullness of possibilities for dynamic subtleties and tone color changes, not to mention sheer beauty of sound. Just thinking of some of the better-known recordings (Pahud, Galway, Rampal, Nicolet, Baker, Larrieu, and many others) makes one reflect on how high the individual accomplishments of Walker’s predecessors actually have been. Even artists who are not quite as well known (such as Philippe Bernold on a Harmonia Mundi recording) have achieved spectacularly fine results. Nevertheless, Walker’s playing is thoroughly worthy of comparisons to such distinguished company, and his variegated performance, in terms of the dynamics, color and subtle rhythmic inflection, is a worthy addition to the other great recordings I’ve mentioned here — a satisfying ending to a captivating and very generous CD-length program. (I checked with Walker’s management, and the contact there kindly informed me that he plays a Powell flute.)

One thing I almost always enjoy with multi-channel recordings like this one is how “liquid” the sound seems in my listening room. Engineer and editor Jonathan Cooper has done an outstanding job of conveying what I imagine to be the fine acoustics of London’s Henry Wood Hall and recreating it in the home listening space. I’ve already mentioned the luxuriant tonal gamut created by each of these players, and this quality would be much less noticeable were the engineering any less worthy. Bravo!

Overall, this is a magnificently played program of works which contrast with each other in so many interesting ways, and it also benefits from the accustomed expertise of the Chandos recording team, especially in its multi-channel incarnation.

Chris Salocks

Previous review: Stuart Sillitoe

Albert ROUSSEL (1869–1937)
Divertissement for Flute, Oboe, Clarinet, Bassoon, Horn, and Piano Op 6 (1906) [6:59]
Claude DEBUSSY (1862–1918)
Petite Pièce for Clarinet and Piano (1910) [1:29]
Première Rhapsodie for Clarinet and Piano (1909-10) [8:20]
Camille SAINT-SAËNS (1835–1921)
Romance in F for Horn and Piano Op 36 (1874) [3:41]
Caprice sur des airs danois et russes for Flute, Oboe, Clarinet, and Piano Op 79 (1887) [11:36]
Cécile CHAMINADE (1857–1944)
Concertino for Flute with Piano Accompaniment Op 107 (1902) [8:29]
Charles KOECHLIN (1867-1950)
Deux Nocturnes for Horn, Flute, and Piano Op 32bis (1897-98, revised 1907, 1912) [6:37]
I Venise. Andante con moto – Tranquillo [3:10]
II Dans la forêt. Adagio [3:27]
André CAPLET (1878-1925)
Quintet in B minor for Flute, Oboe, Clarinet, Bassoon, and Piano Op 8 (1898) [27:33]
I Allegro. Allegro brillamente - Un poco più lento - Tempo I - Un poco più lento - A tempo - Un poco più lento – [8:35]
II Adagio. Adagio - Un poco più animato - A tempo [7:26]
III Scherzo. Très vif - Trio - Da capo [3:52]
IV Finale. Allegro con fuoco - A tempo con fuoco [7:48]
Syrinx ('La Flûte de Pan') for Solo Flute (1913) [3:38]
Originally incidental music to the play Psyché

Orsino Ensemble
Adam Walker (flute)
Nicholas Daniel (oboe)
Matthew Hunt (clarinet)
Amy Harman (bassoon)
Alec Frank-Gemmill (horn)
Pavel Kolesnikov (piano)

Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical
All Naxos reviews

Chandos recordings
All Chandos reviews

Hyperion recordings
All Hyperion reviews

Foghorn recordings
All Foghorn reviews

Troubadisc recordings
All Troubadisc reviews

all Bridge reviews

all cpo reviews

Divine Art recordings
Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10
All Divine Art reviews

All Eloquence reviews

Lyrita recordings
All Lyrita Reviews


Wyastone New Releases
Obtain 10% discount

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing