Notes and Editorial Reviews
Wind Quintets: in F; in g; in E?
Albert Schweitzer Qnt
cpo 777 203 (60:40)
Johann Sobeck (1831–1914) is a name completely new to me, as, indeed, it is to most music encyclopedias. Hans C. Hachmann’s useful notes to this recording of the first three of Sobeck’s four wind quintets constitute the lengthiest biography anywhere, from which we learn that he was yet another Bohemian who sought greener pastures elsewhere. Besides the wind quintets, among the few remaining works by Sobeck are a concert aria, a
clarinet concerto, and other concerted pieces, some opera variations for clarinet, and an arrangement for clarinet and orchestra of the movement of a violin concerto Beethoven left unfinished (WoO 5). The quintets at hand are in four movements and each lasts 20 minutes, give or take a few seconds, which means we only get three of the four.
Within a few bars of the
opening of op. 9 in F, from 1872, we are clearly in a musical world related to Smetana, if not one that is particularly Czech (though Hachmann hears “a hint of Bohemia” in the trio of the third movement). The op. 14, in G-Minor, from 1897, has a trace of Brahms in the genes of its first movement, but becomes more open and almost concertante in the second and third movements and concludes with a lively tarantella. The five instruments are shown off to good effect in this quintet, especially playing the higher off against the lower. Quintet, op. 11, in E?, perhaps from 1892, is a robust and generally cheerful piece. For Hachmann, the trio of the third movement “almost summons up a Mahlerian Ländler atmosphere,” but that is a big “almost,” though it is a fine movement.
The Schweitzer Quintett plays these pieces convincingly and they are certainly worth knowing. They will not make you forget Danzi or Reicha or Mozart, on the one end, nor Nielsen, on the other. I know of no other recordings of them.
FANFARE: Alan Swanson
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