BEETHOVEN Quintet Op 16 POULENC Sextet
This is a most attractive collection of performances from this excellent chamber group. It opens with Poulenc’s many-faceted Sextet for piano and winds, catching its high spirits as well as its
wit, and the gentle melancholy which intervenes at the close of the boisterous finale. The stylish pianist, Zeynep Öz∞uca, nicely balanced, makes an excellent contribution to the central Andantino. She also contributes to the light-hearted Beethoven piano-and-wind Quintet, leading the way delightfully in the first movement Allegro and playing with wonderful delicacy in the Andante cantabile. The finale romps away engagingly.
Guillaume Connesson has emerged as one of the most innovative of modern composers for wind instruments. Techno Parade is a brief one-movement work, full of innovative effects such as a fluttering flute against a similarly restless piano, with the three instruments creating nothing short of a musical frenzy. Samuel Barber’s unpredictable Summer Music, rhapsodic and modal, returns us to musical normality.
It is a touching work for wind quintet, with folk-like melodies evocative of the American South, enlivened by engaging irregular metres.
To offer Richard Strauss’s Till Eulenspiegel to a sextet format of winds and piano seems daring, yet as scored by the flautist here, Aaron Dan, there seems to be nothing missing, even for listeners familiar with the orchestral version. Indeed, the narrative of Till’s escapades is here recounted with remarkable immediacy, with every detail caught in the vivid, articulate and at times witty playing of all six artists, right up to the closing trial and execution. And the way Till finally cocks his snook at the trial is beautifully caught. Yet it is the piano and flute who have the last comment – ‘He wasn’t such a bad chap after all’ – and one wonders whether the witty coda suggests that he escapes at the end. The recording is superb, wonderfully clear and immediate, very much in the demonstration bracket.