MOZART: Don Giovanni; ROSSINI: Il Barbiere di Seviglia – Netherlands Wind Ensemble – Pentatone

by | Jun 1, 2011 | SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews | 0 comments

MOZART: Don Giovanni (arr. for winds by J.G. Triebensee); ROSSINI: Il Barbiere di Seviglia (Arr. for winds by Wenzel Sedlak) – Netherlands Wind Ensemble – Pentatone Classics multichannel RQR (4.0) SACD 5186 190, 62:02 [Distr. by Naxos] ****:
There have been no wind ensembles in the last 100 years that play better than the Netherlands Wind Ensemble of the late sixties and early seventies. That group hit a real pinnacle then, setting standards that have yet to be surpassed. Fortunately they have left us many recordings with which to verify this claim, among them this retread from Pentatone dating 1972-73. Mozart spoke of making more arrangements of his complete operas for the harmonie, or wind ensemble that so flourished in the late eighteenth century, than he actually did, and speed was always a concern, as this was a huge moneymaking market, and with no copyright anyone could beat the original composer to the punch with a non-approved arrangement.
We don’t really know if Joseph Triebensee’s arrangement was sanctioned or not, but as he was the son of the lead oboist of the Imperial Wind Band it does seem likely that Mozart at least knew of the effort. Wenzel Sedlak, who arranged the Rossini, was the director of music at the court of Prince Liechtenstein following Triebensee’s own tenure which ended four years earlier, and at that point arrangements of already-composed music far outnumbered original compositions, the music sometimes appearing even before the opera would premiere, sort of a sneak preview. Both of these are very well done, the Mozart for octet and bass, while the Rossini uses octet plus contrabassoon and two trumpets.
These are old quadraphonic recordings originally made by Philips, and sound just wonderful, giving us in full what quad usually only hinted at; now we know what was originally on those master tapes. This won’t be of interest to everyone, but for those with a hankering you just can’t go wrong. [Philips wisely realized at the time that neither SQ nor QS on LP were viable and either mixed these four-channel masters to stereo for LP release at that time, or let them sit on the shelves until now, when we have three different ways to achieving successful consumer-level multichannel sound: SACD, DVD-A & Blu-ray…Ed]
— Steven Ritter

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