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Mozart, Beethoven: Quintets For Piano & Winds / Levine, Ensemble Wien-Berlin

Beethoven / Schulz / Schellenberger / Leister
Release Date: 01/26/2010 
Label:  Euroarts   Catalog #: 2072308  
Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus MozartLudwig van Beethoven
Performer:  James Levine
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ensemble Wien-Berlin
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Quintets for Piano and Wind Instruments

Ludwig van Beethoven: Piano Quintet in E flat major, Op. 16
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Piano Quintet in E flat major, K. 452

James Levine, piano

Ensemble Wien-Berlin
Hansjörg Schellenberger, oboe
Günter Högner, horn
Karl Leister, clarinet
Milan Turkovi?, bassoon

Recorded at Schloss Hellbrunn, Salzburg, Austria, 1986.

- We have a lot of fun – a portrait documentary about the Ensemble Wien-Berlin.

Picture format: NTSC 4:3
Sound format: PCM Stereo / Dolby Digital 5.1 / DTS 5.1
Region code: 0 (worldwide)
Booklet notes: English,
Read more German
Running time: 56 mins (concert) + 47 mins (bonus)
No. of DVDs: 1 (DVD 9)


BEETHOVEN Quintet for Piano and Winds, op. 16. MOZART Quintet for Piano and Winds, K 452 & Ensemble Wien-Berlin; James Levine (pn) EUROARTS 2072308, mono (DVD: 56:00) Live: Salzburg 1986

& We Have a Lot of Fun, incl. excerpts from LIGETI 6 Bagatelles for Wind Quintet. BERIO Opus Number Zoo. MOZART Adagio in f & Allegro in F, K 594. FRANCAIX Wind Quintet No. 1: Tempo di Marcia francese Ensemble Wien-Berlin (47:00)

Here we have two contrasting films of the same chamber group, Ensemble Wien-Berlin, long known for its pure tones and clean execution. The performance film, with guest pianist James Levine, was directed by Jean-Pierre Ponnelle in 1986. The second film, a documentary of the group including flutist Wolfgang Schulz, was directed by Bill Fertik in 1994. I watched the second film first; its title, We Have a Lot of Fun, must be taken with a grain of salt. These are, after all, classical musicians, and Teutonic-Slav musicians at that. Fun, in their case, is relative. They get along well together as friends, they enjoy each other’s company, and there are no fights during rehearsals. That’s about as “fun” as it gets, though I did enjoy their lively (if slightly inhibited) performance of Berio’s Opus Number Zoo, which incongruously showed a sexy young couple dancing in silhouette in the background. Perhaps this was an adjunct to their fun.

The sound quality of Fertik’s film is thin and a little shrill, so you really don’t get an accurate idea of the group’s sound. Ponnelle, conversely, did a marvelous job alternating close-up and long shots, and the sound quality is warm and full. At this stage, hornist Günter Högner was still playing a single F Holton with a B? adapter, which produces a very pretty but pointed and thin tone—a concession, one might say, to the historically-informed crowd. Since the time of these films, three of the group’s five members have been replaced. Stefan Dohr is now on horn, Norbert Täubl has replaced Karl Leister on clarinet, and Milan Turkovic’s pupil Richard Galler is presently on bassoon.

These are exquisite performances; so good, in fact, that they more than make up for the terrible sound quality that Fertik gave to the quintet’s performance of the Mozart Adagio and Allegro in the bonus film. Levine’s warm yet pearly piano tone complements them perfectly. Strictly as performances, they stand comparison with virtually any version extant on CD, warm and loving with an appropriately light touch. Yet whether or not you feel a need to watch them is your own decision. Inside the DVD box is a printed suggestion to “Listen with your Eyes.” I greatly fear that this is exactly what’s wrong with our classical music scene today, the reason both Simon Rattle and Paavo Järvi dance around the podium when they conduct, the reason we have lieder recitals with dance troupes in the background. Except for being able to see Levine and the group play Beethoven and Mozart, one could not call this DVD a visual treat, but as I said, the performances are superb. Recommended for the audio portion.

FANFARE: Lynn René Bayley
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Works on This Recording

Quintet for Piano and Winds in E flat major, K 452 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  James Levine (Piano)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ensemble Wien-Berlin
Period: Classical 
Written: 1784; Vienna, Austria 
Quintet for Piano, Oboe, Clarinet, Bassoon and Horn in E flat major, Op. 16 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  James Levine (Piano)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ensemble Wien-Berlin
Period: Classical 
Written: 1796; Vienna, Austria 

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