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Reicha: Woodwind Quintets Vol 1 / Westwood Wind Quintet

Reicha / Westwood Wind Quintet
Release Date: 03/26/2012 
Label:  Crystal   Catalog #: 261   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Antoine Reicha
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Westwood Wind Quintet
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 0 Hours 48 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

REICHA Wind Quintets: in e; in E? Westwood Wind Qnt CRYSTAL CD261 (48: 32)

With the release of this disc, the Westwood Wind Quintet completes its recording of the quintets of Anton Reicha (1770–1836), who was one of the most highly respected musicians and teachers of his time. A few years after he began to study music, he became a flutist in the orchestra of the Elector of Cologne. There he met a violist and organist named Beethoven and they became lifelong friends. In 1799 he moved to Paris and tried Read more unsuccessfully to achieve recognition as an opera composer. Two years later he moved to Vienna, where he studied with Antonio Salieri and began to write some of his most important pieces. In 1808 he moved back to Paris, where he spent the rest of his life composing and teaching. He wrote his woodwind quintets there, and in 1818 he was appointed professor at the Paris Conservatory, where he became one of its most respected teachers. His students included Liszt, Berlioz, Gounod, and Franck. Much of Reicha’s work was never published during his lifetime and virtually all of it fell into obscurity after his death. He wrote that many of his works were never heard because of his aversion to seeking performances. As a result, there is treasure to be found in researching his works. There is a far more extensive biography of the composer in the notes that accompany this recording.

In our time, Reicha is best known for the 24 wind quintets he composed between 1811 and 1820. They were played all across Europe. He wrote that, during the second decade of the 19th century, “There was a dearth not only of good classic music, but of any good music at all for wind instruments, simply because the composers knew little of their technique.” Reicha’s experience as a flutist was invaluable in this regard, and he invented new forms that very much enriched the state of the art.

Oboist Peter Christ, who founded the Westwood Woodwind Quintet in 1959, also founded Crystal Records in 1966. These five players are sensitive musicians with incredible technical facility. Many of the Reicha quintets require the utmost in technique but none of that fazes this group. They perform this music with a tonal focus that produces colorful, voluptuous sonorities. It’s interesting to note that since there is no piano involved here, the sound is not adjusted for equal temperament and the intervals are exact.

Two possible comparisons can be made. The Albert Schweitzer Quintet recorded all of the Reicha quintets in 1995. The set consists of 10 discs, so in many cases there are three quintets on each and the tempi are rather fast. The Michael Thompson Wind Ensemble has recorded the E?-Major Quintet for a Naxos 2009 release. They take slower tempi but their playing is not as facile or as smooth as the execution by the Westwood Quintet.

The Crystal recording has clear and crisp sound, and Reicha’s music gives us great listening that never wears out its welcome.

FANFARE: Maria Nockin
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Works on This Recording

Woodwind Quintet in E minor, Op. 88/1 by Antoine Reicha
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Westwood Wind Quintet
Period: Classical 
Venue:  Crystal Chamber Hall, Camas, Washington 
Length: 21 Minutes 34 Secs. 
Woodwind Quintet in E flat major, Op. 88/2 by Antoine Reicha
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Westwood Wind Quintet
Period: Classical 
Venue:  Crystal Chamber Hall, Camas, Washington 
Length: 26 Minutes 14 Secs. 

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