Notes and Editorial Reviews
This is not the well-known Italian ensemble that goes by the name of I Solisti Veneti. I Solisti del Vento is in fact a Belgian wind ensemble comprised of two flutes, three oboes, three clarinets, two bassoons, double bassoon, five French horns, and, as needed, a cello and double-bass. The material on this CD is stated to have been licensed by Etcetera from the Klara catalog, whose Web site, www.klara.be—not Etcetera’s—is the only source listed, should you be unable to find a copy of the disc at your local retailers.
Dvo?ák’s 1878 D-Minor Wind Serenade needs little introduction. It has long enjoyed its well-deserved reputation as one of the great wind ensemble works, right alongside Mozart’s “Gran Partita” Serenade, K
361 (K 370a). Both have an almost equal number of fine recordings to choose from. The current I Solisti del Vento entry may not possess the extra degree of polish and finesse I hear in the all-star cast recording from the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center on Delos, but it does offer very fine playing and a program that is perhaps more imaginative than some.
Where many, if not most, recordings of the Dvo?ák Serenade hitch it to the composer’s companion String Serenade, the current release offers Richard Strauss’s youthful Suite in B?, a piece I’ve had the opportunity to enthuse over in these pages before. Written at the suggestion of Hans von Bülow in 1883, the piece gives little hint of the composer of operas and tone poems to come. Its inspiration allegedly arose from Strauss’s hearing of Brahms’s Third Symphony in Berlin, and the impressionable young composer’s Suite is ripe with Brahmsian richness and colors. Moreover, even at this early stage of his development, Strauss had an affinity for wind sonorities and a grasp of wind-writing that are second to none. This is a gorgeous score, and I Solisti del Vento strikes me as more attuned to Strauss’s extended and free German prose than to Dvo?ák’s shorter, Czech-dance phrase periodicity.
Flor Alpaerts (1876–1954) is the mystery man on this CD. According to the booklet note, he was a Belgian who began his career as conductor of the Antwerp Zoo Concerts, eventually being appointed director of the Antwerp Royal Flemish Conservatory, where he remained until his retirement in 1941. Avondmuziek (“Evening Music”) on the present disc is actually comprised of two short, separate, standalone Serenades, the first in A Major, the second in E Major, making for an oddly incomplete work in search of a conclusion. Written in 1915, both Serenades are octets for double winds—two each of flutes, oboes, clarinets, and bassoons. The musical language is very close to Strauss, though a bit lacking perhaps in some of the elder composer’s sensuality. The second Serenade in E is particularly clever, cute, and captivating, with the instruments chattering away in multi-threaded conversations.
This is quite a lovely disc—superbly played, beautifully recorded, and easily recommended.
Jerry Dubins, FANFARE
Works on This Recording
Serenade for Winds in D minor, Op. 44 by Antonín Dvorák
I Solisti del Vento
Written: 1878; Bohemia
Avondmusiek by Flor Alpaerts
Period: 20th Century
Suite for 13 Winds in B flat major, Op. 4 by Richard Strauss
I Solisti del Vento
Written: 1884; Germany
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