Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Shostakovich, Brumel, Ockeghem, ter Doest
Calefax Reed Quintet

Ton ter Doest - Circusmuziek
Antoine Brumel - Motets "Languente Miseris" and "Nato Canunt Omnia"
Dmitry Shostakovich - Preludes & Fugues for piano Op. 87 No. 1 in C major, No. 4 in E minor, No. 7 in A major and No. 8 in F sharp minor
Johannes Ockeghem - Missa "Fors seulement" for 5 voices (Kyrie, Gloria & Credo only)

Calefax Reed Quintet:
Ivar Berix - Clarinet
Raaf Hekkema - Alto Sax
Lucas van Helsdingen - Alto and Soprano Sax, Bass Clarinet
Alban Wesly - Bassoon
Eduard Wesly - English Horn, Oboe

Out of print

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Lessel, Sextets - Consortium Classicum

Franciszek Lessel (c.1780-1838)

Sextets for 2 Clarinets, 2 Bassoons, 2 Horns & Double Bass
(Wind Sextets nos. 1, 3 and 4, all in E flat major)

Consortium Classicum


This CD looks like it's about to go out of print. Better get it soon if you want it.

Said to have been Haydn's favourite pupil Franciszek Lessel has so far evaded a revival of his music. Dieter Klöcker, the director of Consortium Classicum, has assembled scores of the Wind Sextets from the manuscript parts that survive in the Vienna Conservatoire library.

The prospect of three wind sextets for two clarinets, two bassoons, two horns and double bass by an unknown composer whose productive life reached almost forty years into the nineteenth century may not fill you with transports of delight. In fact this is fresh and airy music. Lessel is quite startling at the start of Sextet No. 4 with the strangest dissonant grumble before sweeping the listener up into a typically effervescent Mozartean Allegro molto. This is succeeded by five movements which include a nonchalant Siciliano, a flighty Polonois and a grave Adagio. The shorter, three movement Sextet No. 3 begins with a heartbeat-pulsed Largo which serves as a prelude to a chasseur Allegro Vivace, a placid Adagio, a very brief Menuetto and a final cheery Rondo. By now we are no longer surprised by the bipartite structure of the first movement of the Sextet No. 1 with its serious introduction and bubblingly spirited Marriage of Figaro-style, Allegro con Spirito. It's all charming stuff with an elegantly pointed Menuetto and a winged Rondo Vivace complete with hunting-horn graces.

Pleasing additions to the harmoniemusik repertoire to join Consortium Classicum’s previous efforts for MDG in Süßmayr, Hummel, Weber and Cartellieri.

Rob Barnett (musicweb-international.com)

Friday, 11 February 2011

Beethoven & Triebensee, Oboe Trios
Zupnik, Greenbank & Starr

Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)
Variations for 2 oboes & English horn in C major on Mozart's "Là ci darem la mano" WoO 28

Josef Triebensee (1772-1846)
Trio for 2 oboes & cor anglais in B flat major
Trio for 2 oboes & cor anglais in C major
Trio for 2 oboes & cor anglais in F major
Variations for wind ensemble on a theme from Haydn's "Surprise" Symphony (No. 94)

Ludwig van Beethoven
Trio for 2 oboes & English horn in C major, Op. 87

Marilyn Zupnik (Oboe), Kathryn Greenbank (Oboe), Elizabeth Starr Masoudnia (English Horn)

1996/2007 (out of print)

The [ASV Quicksilva] collection is of music for a trio of two oboes and cor anglais and it includes a real novelty — a work actually written for these three unlikely instruments by Beethoven. The Trio, Op. 87, in spite of its opus number, dates from 1794 and is youthfully spontaneous and well crafted, with the Scherzo and Finale particularly infectious.

Equally diverting is Beethoven's set of variations on Mozart's "La ci darem la mano" for the same combination. The rest of the disc is made up of three charming, lightweight trios by Beethoven's Bohemian contemporary, Joseph Triebensee, which show an even greater feeling for instrumental colour, especially in the nicely blended slow movements. The three soloists here, Marilyn Zupnik, Kathryn Greenbank and Elizabeth Starr, play freshly and match timbres nicely. Taken a work at a time this well-recorded disc is very agreeable.

(Gramophone, 1997)

Every great artist, I’m sure, leaves a surprise or two for posterity. So what could be more unexpected than, not one, but two works by Beethoven scored for the unlikely combination of two oboes and an English horn? Both are products of Beethoven’s early years in Vienna, variously dated between 1794 and 1796, making them roughly contemporaneous with the op. 1 piano sonatas. Neither was published at the time. Beethoven held out the trio, and B&H rejected the Variations when it was offered to them (Oops!). Both represent Beethoven’s lighter side, amiable but finely wrought. The Trio in C, op. 87, was eventually published in 1806, hence the late opus number.

There are two Triebensee surprises. First is that someone bothered to dig his original works out of the archives. Joseph Triebensee (1772–1846), oboist and conductor, was one of the innumerable Bohemian musicians who gravitated toward Vienna during the Classical period. He was also a prolific composer, with 12 comic operas and various orchestral and instrumental works to his credit, but he is remembered today, if at all (along with his father-in-law, Johann Wendt), for making arrangements for winds of Mozart’s operas. (Triebensee has a 10-line entry in the Norton/Grove Concise Encyclopedia, but he is not mentioned in either the Oxford Dictionary or the Harvard Biographical Dictionary.) Among his works were four trios for oboes and English horn, three of which are included in this compilation. They employ a typically Classical four-movement structure and show off the composer’s lyrical bent. Due to his performing experience, no doubt, Triebensee’s writing for double reeds is particularly apt. Incidentally, Triebensee’s B flat Trio is timed at 10:20, exactly the same duration as the first of the four movements of Beethoven’s Trio. The second Triebensee “Surprise” is the theme of his Variations, taken from Haydn’s G-Major Symphony, No. 94, subtitled—you guessed it!

Unless I miss my own guess, the “someone” who dusted off the Triebensee trios was Marilyn Zupnik, who wrote the notes for the booklet. Zupnik, among things, has been a member of the Israel Philharmonic and the Minnesota Orchestra. Kathryn Greenbank is principal oboe of the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, and Elizabeth Starr Masoudnia plays English horn for the Philadelphia Orchestra. All are in top form in this delightful program, which was originally recorded in 1996 and was formerly available on the ASV label. Be pleasantly surprised.

(Fanfare, 2007)