Notes and Editorial Reviews
Westwood Wind Qnt
CRYSTAL 759 (60:49)
Quartet in C.
Nikolai Karpowitsch Tschemberdschi (1903–1948) is a name new to me (I am fairly sure I would have remembered it). Active in politics (and its extensions into the musical arena), his
(1935) is arresting in its assured writing and in the composer’s acute ear for effective scoring. The
third movement is particularly impressive, its melancholy soundscape superbly painted here; the Finale, a set of variations, contains some textures that sound remarkably experimental.
The Westwood Quintet’s clear excellence in ensemble is unsurprising when one considers its extensive work on Crystal Records, in particular its recordings of the Reicha quintets (I have yet to hear these—I would dearly love to, having played in some myself) have been well documented, and praised, in the pages of
. João Guilherne Ripper (born Rio de Janeiro, 1959) wrote his Wind Trio for oboe, clarinet, and bassoon in 2002. The second movement is very effectively based on the Latin formula “Requiem Aeternam.” The close is particularly delicate and well imagined, and beautifully executed here. The Finale, in contrast, is all about imitative hijinks, something these players seem to revel in.
New York-born Arthur Berger (1912–2003) was a member of the Young Composers Group (of Aaron Copland fame). His Quintet in C (1941) was composed for the principals of the San Francisco Symphony, and indeed it shines with a virtuosity that seems indicative of the fine players for whom it was written. The present release’s booklet notes are right to point out the influence of Copland, and occasionally the influence does drown out Berger’s own voice. Nevertheless, this is a mightily attractive work, with the Finale particularly a breath of fresh air.
Walter Piston is beyond doubt the best known composer represented here (he also taught Berger). The Three Pieces heard here are for flute, clarinet, and bassoon. The date of composition is variously given as 1925 or 1926. Whatever the date, they are astonishingly confident pieces, the central slow movement of which is hypnotic in its unraveling. The players here demonstrate impeccable control. The final movement begins perhaps as expected (lively, approachable, genial) but also includes a flute cadenza (John Barcellona). There is some wonderful fast and even clarinet playing on offer here, too, by William Helmers.
Born in 1927, Walter S. Hartley wrote his Woodwind Quartet (flute, oboe, clarinet, and horn) in 1950. Following the Piston is a tough ask, but this is a well-chosen piece. The first movement exudes joy (the playing here verges on the cheeky, in fact), something which permeates the entire piece. The movements are incredibly short, almost like snippets, but immensely enjoyable. Finally there comes the piece the disc is named after,
(subtitled “a sweet for children,” 1979) by Martin Scot Kosins. This is a real treat, well crafted yet clearly designed for (pardon the pun) unadulterated fun. The second movement asks the players not involved in blowing to play claves, maracas, and agogo bells, which comes as a pleasant surprise if you haven’t read the booklet notes.
Anyone involved in woodwind groups should pounce on this as a source of possible repertoire. That said, there is plenty for non-wind players to enjoy, too. The mix of composers is finely considered; the recording is excellent. All in all, a winner.
FANFARE: Colin Clarke
Works on This Recording
Quartet for Winds by Walter Hartley
Westwood Wind Quintet
Period: 20th Century
Written: 1950; USA
Length: 1 Minutes 16 Secs.
Wind Trio for oboe, clarinet, & bassoon by Joao Guilherme Ripper
William Helmers (Clarinet),
Peter Christ (Oboe),
Patricia Nelson (Bassoon)
Length: 11 Minutes 55 Secs.
Pieces (3) for flute, clarinet & bassoon by Walter Piston
William Helmers (Clarinet),
Patricia Nelson (Bassoon),
John Barcellona (Flute)
Length: 10 Minutes 1 Secs.
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