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Borealis En Salon / Borealis Wind Quintet

Taffanel / Onslow / Borealis Wind Quintet
Release Date: 06/09/2009 
Label:  Msr   Catalog #: 1250  
Composer:  Claude Paul TaffanelAdolphe Edouard Marie DeslandresGeorges OnslowCharles Édouard Lefebvre
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Borealis Wind Quintet
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

BORÉALIS EN SALON Boréalis Wind Qnt MSR 1250 (69:27)

TAFFANEL Wind Quintet. DESLANDREs 3 Pièces en quintette. ONSLOW Quintet, op. 81. LEFEBVRE Suite, op. 57

In 1879, the Read more Société de Musique de Chambre pour Instruments à Vent was founded in Paris by Paul Taffanel (1844–1908), a virtuoso flutist, teacher, and conductor. Taffanel is regarded as the father of the modern French school of flute-playing, and the concerts he organized encouraged composers to expand the wind music repertoire. Of course, a French penchant for woodwind existed before Taffanel came along—witness the music of Bizet and Onslow—but it intensified through Taffanel’s influence.

This disc showcases two works written to be performed by Taffanel’s chamber société: his own Wind Quintet and the Suite by Charles Lefebvre (1843–1917). The somewhat later pieces by Adolphe Deslandres (1840–1911) were composed and first performed in 1900. The fourth work is the wind quintet by Georges Onslow (1784–1853), a composer of a previous generation who in his day was dubbed “the French Beethoven.” That may have been an overstatement, but his music is certainly worth reviving.

If any earlier composer comes to mind on listening to this program, it is Mozart: these elegant, tuneful, and joyous works are the offspring of his divertimentos and serenades. In the faster movements, Mendelssohn is also not far away. A pastoral ambience underlies this music with its gentle songlike melodies and sprightly finales. Even movements in the minor key (such as the first movement of Taffanel’s Quintet) are mischievous rather than dramatic.

I was most taken with the Three Pieces by Deslandres. He was best known as an organist, and the first of his pieces is a set of variations on a hymn tune. The theme is warmly scored, with the horn tellingly used to enrich the texture. The subsequent variations are sparser, with a piquant touch pervading. It is all very graceful and skillfully voiced, and while Deslandres’s variations are not as individual as those of Carl Nielsen (in his Wind Quintet of 21 years later), I could not help wondering if the great Dane was acquainted with the Frenchman’s work.

The challenge in composing a wind quintet is to write for five instruments that do not automatically blend—unlike a string quintet. However, it can be done, as shown by these four fine composers and even more so by the warm, exquisitely balanced playing of the Boréalis Wind Quintet. The sound quality is top notch. In a phrase, très charmante.

FANFARE: Phillip Scott
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Works on This Recording

Quintet for Winds in G minor by Claude Paul Taffanel
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Borealis Wind Quintet
Period: Romantic 
Written: France 
Pièces (3) en quintette by Adolphe Edouard Marie Deslandres
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Borealis Wind Quintet
Period: Romantic 
Quintet for Winds in F major, Op. 81 by Georges Onslow
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Borealis Wind Quintet
Period: Romantic 
Written: by 1852 
Suite for Wind Quintet, Op. 57 by Charles Édouard Lefebvre
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Borealis Wind Quintet
Period: Romantic 

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