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The Seasons / Berlin Philharmonic Wind Quintet

Ibert / Berlin Philharmonic Wind Quintet / Hasel
Release Date: 05/28/2013 
Label:  Bis   Catalog #: 2072  
Composer:  Jacques IbertHenri TomasiDarius MilhaudCharles Koechlin,   ... 
Performer:  Andreas WittmanWalter SeyfarthFergus McWilliamHenning Trog,   ... 
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Woodwind Quintet
Number of Discs: 4 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 4 Hours 29 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

No need to try, just buy!

This four disc set brings together wind quintet repertoire from disparate corners of the BIS record catalogue. The Villa-Lobos Quinteto em forma de chôros for instance was part of a complete set , though you won’t find any duplication with later discs such as the ensemble’s Danses et Divertissements album. I am still very happily in possession of the Franz Danzi complete wind quintets collection, and with imaginatively managed programming for this widely varying collection of 20 th century works this specially priced box set has good prospects.
 
Indeed, from the start this collection has a ‘what’s not to like’ feel about it, commencing
Read more with the lively Pièces brèves by Ibert to get us all into a spring-like mood. This is better known than Tomasi’s Printemps, which with its birdsong and the added spice of a solo saxophone with the quintet is attractively written and filled with wit and surprise. You would expect superlative performances of classics for wind such as Milhaud’s La Cheminée du roi René, and that is exactly what we have here. The Berlin Philharmonic Wind Quintet’s sound is really flexible: from warmly expressive and fluidly lyrical, to the kind of pungency and rhythmic sharpness demanded not only by French composers. The familiar is once again placed against less frequently heard fare, this time with the elegant restraint of Koechlin’s excellent Septuor. Both playful and light in tone and texture, this is a surprisingly youthful work from the then 70 year-old composer, having fun with fugues which dance with decidedly un-academic frivolity. Françaix’s energetic Quintette No. 1 is terrific fun to play and to hear, expertly put together and performed with superb élan in this recording. The first CD ends with a spectacular little encore, the runs of Bozza’s Scherzo having something of Rimsky-Korsakov’s Flight of the Bumblebee.
 
CD 2 brings us into summer, and the expressive languor which opens Barber’s Summer Music. The virtuoso elements in this 20 th century American classic proves the player’s chops for a work by Elliott Carter which wrong-foots us by its good humour and strong sense of cadence and tonality. Looking back to student days as a pupil of Nadia Boulanger, Carter aimed to please his teacher with “music of the kind [she] would have wanted me to write when I was her student.” Schuller’s Suite is great fun and still nowhere near what anyone could claim as being avant-garde, with references to folk music and jazz. The musical quotes in Machala’s miniature American Folk Suite are great fun and make a good accompaniment to the Schuller work, forming a kind of prelude to Medaglia’s Suite 'Belle Epoque in Sud-America'. Written for the ensemble recorded here, this and the Suite popular Brasileira are sophisticated works which reference existing musical sources without overplaying the elements of parody, creating work of substance and refined technique. Pitombeira’s Ajubete jepê amô mbaê further demonstrates the breadth of sonorities and rhythmic feats possible from a wind quintet, creating a mini-concerto through its exchange of brilliantly accompanied solos.
 
Recorded in a slightly drier acoustic, CD 3 takes us to Autumn and significant works by Hindemith and Henze. The Klein Kammermusik Op. 24 No. 2 comes from his inter-war period as the ‘enfant terrible’ of German music. Filled with humour and witty parody, this was written for the leading players in Frankfurt at the time and remains a favourite of the wind quintet repertoire. Thirty years on and Henze’s Quintett brings us for the first time into worlds of what might be termed ‘modern’ music by today’s values. Even where abstraction has become stronger, this is a work which retains traditional values, extending tonality and melody into more enigmatic realms but, with beauty and energy, entirely within the idiom and character of each instrument. L’autunno from 1977 is more poetic and romantic, described by Henze as “programme music”, evocative of memories “both fleeting and more clearly defined”. With altered sonorities introduced through the use of alto flute, a Wagner tuba, piccolo and bass clarinets and a contrabassoon, this expressive but sometimes elusive work has something about it which recalls Alban Berg, as well as fragments which remind me of Stravinsky in carnival mood. The programme concludes with Hindemith’s post-war Septett, with its added trumpet and bass clarinet. Hindemith had emigrated to America by this time, and the music reflects a more relaxed feel while at the same time being rich in expression, especially in the slower Intermezzo movements.
 
Composers from more northern climes bring us the Winter Songs of CD 4, the exception being Australian Brett Dean’s eponymous work which is the only contribution with a vocal part. Daniel Norman sings settings of e.e. cummings’ texts from a collection dealing with aspects of winter, his voice balanced amongst the instruments rather than projected as star soloist. Extended performing techniques and subsidiary instruments widen the sound palette from the winds, at times creating moods reminiscent of Ligeti. Erkki-Sven Tüür’s series of works entitled Architectonics are amongst his best known pieces, and the first has elements reminiscent of the simplicity for which Arvo Pärt became renowned. Tüür contrasts his reflective passages with more active sections, while still retaining formality of structure and content. P?teris Vasks from Latvia’s Music for a deceased friend is a haunting musical epitaph, while Arvo Pärt’s Quintettino comes from his early compositional period, in which atonality and collage techniques create compact movements of unexpected energy or rarefied atmosphere. His final ‘’ave a banana’ turn at the close shows an aspect of his character none of us know much about. The final masterpiece here is Nielsen’s Wind Quintet, Op. 43, which sits between the fifth and sixth symphonies and is filled with their fingerprints.
 
This is a superb collection of extremely fine performances, and should be part of everyone’s collection: no need to try, just buy! My copy has the labelling of CD 2 and 3 mixed up on the actual discs, so please check to make sure you are not listening to Hindemith or Henze and thinking you might have to re-evaluate your thinking on Barber or the music of the Americas. BIS has acknowledged this fault and doubt it will be sorted out in the future. The booklet is well documented with all sung texts given.
 
-- Dominy Clements, MusicWeb International 

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Works on This Recording

1.
Pièces brèves (3) for Wind Quintet by Jacques Ibert
Performer:  Andreas Wittman (Oboe), Walter Seyfarth (Clarinet), Fergus McWilliam (French Horn),
Henning Trog (Bassoon), Michael Hasel (Flute)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Woodwind Quintet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1930; France 
Date of Recording: 10/1991 
Venue:  Andreaskirche, Wannsee, Berlin 
Length: 6 Minutes 54 Secs. 
2.
Printemps by Henri Tomasi
Performer:  Michael Hasel (Flute), Manfred Preis (Alto Saxophone), Henning Trog (Bassoon),
Walter Seyfarth (Clarinet), Fergus McWilliam (French Horn), Andreas Wittman (Oboe)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Woodwind Quintet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1963; France 
Date of Recording: 10/1991 
Venue:  Andreaskirche, Wannsee, Berlin 
Length: 9 Minutes 9 Secs. 
3.
La cheminée du roi René, Op. 205 by Darius Milhaud
Performer:  Henning Trog (Bassoon), Fergus McWilliam (French Horn), Andreas Wittman (Oboe),
Walter Seyfarth (Clarinet), Michael Hasel (Flute)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Woodwind Quintet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1939; France 
Date of Recording: 10/1991 
Venue:  Andreaskirche, Wannsee, Berlin 
Length: 13 Minutes 7 Secs. 
4.
Septet for Winds, Op. 165 by Charles Koechlin
Performer:  Fergus McWilliam (French Horn), Andreas Wittman (Oboe), Walter Seyfarth (Clarinet),
Michael Hasel (Flute), Henning Trog (Bassoon), Manfred Preis (Alto Saxophone),
Gerhard Stempnik (French Horn)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Woodwind Quintet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1937; France 
Date of Recording: 10/1991 
Venue:  Andreaskirche, Wannsee, Berlin 
Length: 15 Minutes 52 Secs. 
5.
Quintet for Winds no 1 by Jean Françaix
Performer:  Henning Trog (Bassoon), Walter Seyfarth (Clarinet), Fergus McWilliam (French Horn),
Andreas Wittman (Oboe), Michael Hasel (Flute)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Woodwind Quintet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1948; France 
Date of Recording: 10/1991 
Venue:  Andreaskirche, Wannsee, Berlin 
Length: 20 Minutes 24 Secs. 
6.
Scherzo for Wind Quintet, Op. 48 by Eugène Bozza
Performer:  Fergus McWilliam (French Horn), Walter Seyfarth (Clarinet), Andreas Wittman (Oboe),
Michael Hasel (Flute), Henning Trog (Bassoon)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Woodwind Quintet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: France 
Date of Recording: 10/1991 
Venue:  Andreaskirche, Wannsee, Berlin 
Length: 2 Minutes 35 Secs. 
7.
Summer Music, Op. 31 by Samuel Barber
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Woodwind Quintet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1956; USA 
8.
Quintet for Winds by Elliott Carter
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Woodwind Quintet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1948; USA 
9.
Suite for Wind Quintet by Gunther Schuller
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Woodwind Quintet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1944; USA 
10.
American Folk Suite by Kazimierz Machala
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Woodwind Quintet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1980 
11.
Belle epoque in Sud-America by Julio Medaglia
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Woodwind Quintet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1994-1997 
12.
Quinteto em forma de Chôros, W 231 by Heitor Villa-Lobos
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Woodwind Quintet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1928; Paris, France 
13.
Ajubete jepe amo mbae by Liduino Pitombeira
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Woodwind Quintet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1991 
14.
Suite popular brasileira by Julio Medaglia
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Woodwind Quintet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1991-1993 
15.
Kleine Kammermusik for Wind Quintet, Op. 24 no 2 by Paul Hindemith
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Woodwind Quintet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1922; Germany 
Date of Recording: 09/1995 
16.
Quintet for Winds by Hans Werner Henze
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Woodwind Quintet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1952; Germany 
Date of Recording: 09/1995 
17.
L'autunno by Hans Werner Henze
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Woodwind Quintet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1977; Germany 
Date of Recording: 09/1995 
18.
Septet for Flute, Oboe, Clarinet, Bass Clarinet, Bassoon, Horn and Trumpet by Paul Hindemith
Performer:  Manfred Preis (Bass Clarinet), Thomas Clamor (Trumpet)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Woodwind Quintet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1948; Germany 
Date of Recording: 09/1995 
19.
Quintettino by Arvo Pärt
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Woodwind Quintet
Period: 20th Century 
20.
Quintet for Winds, Op. 43 by Carl Nielsen
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Woodwind Quintet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1922; Denmark 
21.
Winter Songs by Brett Dean
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Woodwind Quintet
22.
Music for a Deceased Friend by Peteris Vasks
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Woodwind Quintet

Sound Samples

3 Pieces breves: No. 1. Allegro
3 Pieces breves: No. 2. Andante
3 Pieces breves: No. 3. Assez lent - Allegro scherzando
Printemps: I. Reveil des oiseaux
Printemps: II. Chant d'amour
Printemps: III. Danse des oiseaux
La cheminee du roi Rene, Op. 205: I. Cortege
La cheminee du roi Rene, Op. 205: II. Aubade
La cheminee du roi Rene, Op. 205: III. Jongleurs
La cheminee du roi Rene, Op. 205: IV. La maousinglade
La cheminee du roi Rene, Op. 205: V. Joutes sur l'arc
La cheminee du roi Rene, Op. 205: VI. Chasse a Valabre
La cheminee du roi Rene, Op. 205: VII. Madrigal-nocturne
Wind Septet, Op. 165: I. Monodie
Wind Septet, Op. 165: II. Pastorale
Wind Septet, Op. 165: III. Intermezzo
Wind Septet, Op. 165: IV. Fugue
Wind Septet, Op. 165: V. Serenite
Wind Septet, Op. 165: VI. Fugue
Wind Quintet: I. Andante tranquillo - Allegro assai
Wind Quintet: II. Presto
Wind Quintet: III. Tema. Variation 1 - 4
Wind Quintet: IV. Tempo di marcia francese
Scherzo, Op. 48
Summer Music, Op. 31
Woodwind Quintet: I. Allegretto
Woodwind Quintet: II. Allegro giocoso
Suite for Wind Quintet: I. Prelude
Suite for Wind Quintet: II. Blues
Suite for Wind Quintet: III. Toccata
American Folk Suite
Suite, "Belle Epoque in Sud-America": I. Tango
Suite, "Belle Epoque in Sud-America": II. Vals Paulista
Suite, "Belle Epoque in Sud-America": III. Chorinho 'Walter´s Requinta maluca'
Quinteto em forma de choros: Quintette en forme de Choros
Ajubete jepe amo mbae
Suite popular brasileira: I. Choro em Berlin
Suite popular brasileira: II. Baiao
Suite popular brasileira: III. Seresta
Suite popular brasileira: IV. Frevo

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