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The Clarinet


4 Woods + 1 Sax Play Rameau, Mozart and Ravel. Vienna Reed Quintet: Heri Choi, oboe, English horn; Heinz-Peter Linshalm, clarinet; Alfred Reiter, soprano saxophone, alto saxophone; Petra Stump-Linshalm, bass clarinet; Sophie Dartigalongue, bassoon. J.P. Rameau/arr. Raaf Hekkema: Suite: La Triomphante; W. A. Mozart/arr. Jelte Althuis: Fantasia in F minor, K. 608; M. Ravel/arr. Raaf Hekkema: Le Tombeau de Couperin. Naxos Records, 8.579021. Total Time: 62:48.

4 Woods + 1 Sax play Rameau, Mozart and Ravel by the Vienna Reed Quintet features an exquisite collection of music. As a relatively new chamber music genre, the reed quintet evolved just a few decades ago out of the traditional woodwind quintet. The ensemble type subtracts the flute and horn from the wind quintet and replaces them with saxophone and bass clarinet. The Vienna Reed Quintet is the first ensemble with this type of instrumentation on the Austrian chamber music scene. Heri Choi (oboe), Heinz-Peter Linshalm (clarinet), Alfred Reiter (saxophone), Petra Stump-Linshalm (bass clarinet) and Sophie Dartigalongue (bassoon), present a fresh and unusual ensemble.

The compositions on the CD are fascinating arrangements of keyboard music for reed quintet. Programmed in chronological order, the tracks introduce novel versions of Jean-Philippe Rameau’s Suite: La Triomphante (1726/7, originally for piano), Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Fantasia in F minor, K. 608 (originally for organ) and Maurice Ravel’s Le Tombeau de Couperin (1914-17, originally for piano). Hearing these compositions performed by an all-reeds group is remarkably fulfilling. The synchronicity of rhythm and phrase execution is incredibly unified when divided among the five players. The variety of textures and timbral combinations presented in each of the works is both interesting and engaging, and provides and enriching version of these works that would otherwise be confined to the keyboard literature.

Besides the refined musicality of this ensemble, the most impressive element is its perfect blend at all times. Dynamics, phrasing, articulation and other stylistic features are all meticulously matched within a multi-layered homogeneity. Considering the different playing tendencies and traditions for each instrument, one can appreciate the musicality and skill level of the ensemble members creating a shared musical vision.

– Barbara Heilmair