A delightful spotlight on the woodwind section of the great Concertgebouw Orch.
“Woodwinds of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra” – JANACEK: Mladi; MARTINU: Sextet for Piano and Winds H. 174; SANDOR VERESS: Sonatina for Oboe, Clarinet & Bassoon; POULENC: Sextuor – Soloists – RCO Live multichannel SACD RCO15008, 59:59 *****:
Antonine Reicha made the quintet of flute, oboe, clarinet, horn and bassoon into one of the most important chamber ensembles at the start of the 19th century. Composers later explored new possibilities with this combination. An English horn and piccolo became a possible part of the equation, and the addition of a piano opened up very different possibilities, since it could be either accompanying or in a solo role. Janacek added a bass clarinet and called for the flutist to sometimes also play the piccolo.
The Janacek Mladi is full of folk influences, which he collected before Bartok and Kodaly. The chamber music version didn’t do well, but Janacek later wrote it for full orchestra, and it has been most popular in that format. Bohuslav Martinu also lived in Prague and he spoke with the native language of his country. The Veress Sonatina consists of a different version of the typical sonata form, and also is heavily influenced by Czech folk music.
The longest work here (at 18 min.) is the terrific Sextet of Poulenc. A French feeling with light humor at its heart is the style of this work. Roussel’s Divertissement served as model this the Sextet. It is a light-hearted work with a strong ironic quality about its first movement.
The excellent hi-res surround, as with all RCO Live SACDs, is perfect for this lovely music. The illustrated note booklet is also interesting reading.