20th Century Music for Wind Trio

Author: 
Christopher Headington

20th Century Music for Wind Trio

  • (5) Pièces en trio
  • Pastorale
  • Concert champêtre
  • Sonata for Clarinet and Bassoon
  • Suite d'après Corrette
  • Trio for Oboe, Clarinet and Bassoon

Perhaps prompted by the Milhaud centenary, this disc offers a sequence of music that would surely never be heard in a concert and the three distinguished British players of the London Wind Trio are fully at home in the variously Latin styles of the five twentieth-century composers. As for the music itself, it is mostly agreeable but not always more than that, and Ibert's Cinq pieces are typical in that they are neatly written, in a gently neo-classical idiom, but unmemorable. Music such as this will yield fewer rewards for its substance than as examples of Gallically idiomatic writing for the three instruments, together with playing of corresponding skill. Milhaud manages to be himself in his little Pastorale, but it is short on charm; however, his Suite d'apres Corrette is more attractive with its sequence of old French dances and genre pieces.
The name of Henri Tomasi (1901-71) will be unfamiliar to most collectors, but this Marseillais is among the illustrious company of French composers who won the Prix de Rome. He wrote mostly for the theatre, and on a grand scale, so this five-movement Concert champetre of 1933 (the adjective means ''rural'' or ''rustic'') is atypical in being a suite of lilting miniatures with a tart period flavour that owes something to Ravel's Le tombeau de Couperin. The most provocative music here is the Trio by Villa-Lobos, written in 1921 shortly before he left his native Brazil for a stay of seven years in Paris, where he became an idol of the then avant-garde. Whether it has value is debatable, for its anything-goes, snook-cocking style sounds horribly dated and empty, but this disciplined performance probably does all that can be done for it.
I have left Poulenc's Sonata for clarinet and bassoon till last, as perhaps it is the best item: although only seven minutes long, every note counts and the writing has characteristic invention and wit. But all in all, the music on this cleanly and closely recorded disc is less than impressive and the 25 tracks make for bittiness, though it will give pleasure to connoisseurs of wind writing and performance.'

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