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Thursday, April 27, 2006

Danzi - Wind Quintets

Danzi was a composer in the Mozart/Haydn age. Now, most music composed in the Classical Era was pure formula - put the numbers in, and you got a calculated answer. Even the most able musicians were bound by this straight-jacket. One thing, however, that this era understood better than any other was the use of woodwinds. Whether it was spurred on by the development of the clarinet, the wider acceptability of the horn in non-ceremonial music, or the lure of the flute over the recorder can be debated endlessly by period historians. One thing is certain - the wind quintet composed of 3 upper voices, the flute, oboe, and new clarinet, supported by an interesting base combination of horn and bassoon - gives you a sweet, varied, delightful vehicle to carry your musical thoughts.

The Michael Thomson Ensemble are just outstanding - the three opus 67 Wind Quintets can be enjoyed over and over. One caveat though, the Horn Sonata filler is a little harsh coming on the back of these birds in swinging flight.

Listen to the disc here.

Hunting for English Music

Norman Lebrecht has a rather fiercesome analysis of English Serious Music in his latest posting of weekly essays. Now, this guy doesn't hide his knives, and if you're a dead composer, you can't really run very far away. So Elgar, Holst, and Vaughan Williams take a huge pounding for producing inconsistent works too inconsistently. And if you're one of the lesser lights, you're just incompetent, and a tune-spinner.

One hit wonders is all that the English have contributed to the world of Classical Music - that is Mr Lebrecht's theme, and who will mount the counterattack?

Truly barbed words here.