Notes and Editorial Reviews
The Vienna Philharmonic wind soloists play smoothly and sensitively, and the result of their efforts is well balanced with Gulda's limpid account of the piano part of these quintets. The result of their efforts is also well balanced internally, save only that the horn is sometimes rather unduly reticent; this, however, will seem only a small hardship to any listener who remembers some of the French wind chamber music recordings with that altogether inescapable horn playing. More of a hardship here, perhaps, is the slightly acid tone and unsmiling style of the oboist; true, there is from time to time the suspicion of a vibrato, but the smile it suggests is only a mirthless one. And it does—along with all the very many good features of the
playing—tend to be displayed at some length: many of the tempos are on the leisurely side.
The recording, however, is on the very good side: both mono and stereo offering a round, warm tone of depth and clarity. In this respect, however, the new disc is very nearly matched by its excellent older competitor; and that Columbia record does offer equally sensitive performances in general, with rather warmer oboe-playing on the part of Sidney Sutcliffe, and a more natural balance for Dennis Brain's beautiful playing of the horn part. It offers, too, a small degree of escape from some, if not all, of the leisurely tempos of the D.G.G. players.
But to revert to this matter is to risk giving it an altogether undue seeming importance; of much more account is the outstanding general excellence of both pairs of performances, and of their recording.
-- Gramophone [3/1961]
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