Classical Editor: Rob Barnett                               Music Webmaster Len Mullenger:

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-91)
Quintet for Piano and Wind in E flat, K452.
Quintet for Piano and Wind in C minor, Op. 52.
Hexagon Ensemble.
AC Classics AC99067 [DDD] [54'00]
This disc can be purchased from the importer:
Silver Service CDs, 14 Balmoral Avenue, Shepshed, Loughborough, Leicestershire, LE12 9PX
Tel +44(0) 1509 829301  Fax +44(0) 1509 829302

This is a strikingly imaginative coupling, a positive breath of fresh air and a welcome alternative to the more usual linking of the Mozart with the Beethoven Quintet for Piano and Wind in E flat, Op. 16. The Hexagon Ensemble's sense of discovery shines through their music making so that the Mozart sounds every bit as newly-minted as the Spohr. They have a collective chamber music affinity that gives their interchanges an infectious sense of spontaneity and enjoyment. There is stiff competition in K452, however: Mozart was especially satisfied with this piece, and its deserved popularity has guaranteed a fairly extensive discography. The Haxagon Ensemble's pianist's habit of not always placing his chords exactly together coupled with a piano tone which requires a little more depth means that, if this piece is the primary concern, other alternatives may need to be considered. Gieseking, playing with the all-star Philharmonia Wind Ensemble, remains a clear first recommendation in this piece (Testament SBT1091), with stiff competition from Perahia (on Sony SMK42099: this repertoire suits him well).

Spohr's music deserves a higher place in the collective rankings. The Hexagon Ensemble clearly believes this, and its persuasiveness knows no bounds. In his Op. 52 Quintet (in which he replaces the oboe with the flute), Spohr reveals all his charm and wit. This piece was championed by none other than Moscheles. Its expertly crafted form and spontaneous joy clearly show a formidable joie de vivre. There is a seemingly endless flow of melody in the first movement, the ending inspiring Paolo Giacometti, the pianist, to sparking scales. The Menuetto is lively (again, the pianist excels in his cheeky articulation) and the sunny, joyous finale rounds the piece off perfectly. The Gaudier Ensemble's recording of the Nonet, Op. 31 and Octet, Op. 32 on Hyperion CDA666999 would make a perfect next port of call.

If you enjoy the Spohr a fraction as much as I did, you will not have wasted your money.


Colin Clarke



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