Reicha/Beethoven Compositions for Wind

Author: 
John Warrack

Reicha/Beethoven Compositions for Wind

  • Sextet
  • Quintet
  • (12) Trios

Beethoven's unfinished Quintet for the improbable combination of oboe, three horns and bassoon is not quite a stranger to the catalogue (it appeared on an ASV disc in August 1987), which is just as well, as it is not going to feature much in concert repertoires. It is well worth the occasional airing, even if what W5 have appears to be a completion of the first movement by a later hand, then an Adagio and a trenchant little minuet—no more. It is in the Adagio that the best music is to be found. Beethoven uses the warm, dark textures to great effect, with a sombre melody beautifully conceived for the instruments' tone-colour: particularly with such eloquent oboe playing from Jiri Mihule, very Czech in its fresh, woody timbre, this is a fine invention. The better known Sextet is not really as original, though it is agreeable music well tailored to its purpose of entertainment. The players might have made a bit more of the Menuetto. Though marked Quasi allegretto, the music is tauter, almost anticipating a scherzo.
Those who fear that 35 minutes of music for two horns and bassoon by the not very well known Antonin Rejcha might prove a trifle enervating have a point. Listening to it with full attention, as Rejcha is a composer of more than a little historical interest, I found this hard work, though there are some pleasant and ingenious inventions. Trying it again with much less attention on it, I found it working pleasantly enough as aural furniture for other tasks. I know one is not supposed to say that, but there are those who like to have something gently playing as background to conversation. This would do nicely.'

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