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Harmoniemusik for Wind Quintet (arr. Ulf-Guido Schäfer)
“A Midsummer Night’s Dream” Op. 61- Extracts [20:15]
String Quartet Op. 44 No. 3 [36:08]
Nocturne Op. 24 [9:24]
Ma’a lot Quintet (Stephanie Winker (flute), Christian Wetzel (oboe), Ulf-Guido Schäfer (clarinet), Volker Grewel (horn), Volker Tessmann (bassoon))
rec. Konzerthaus der Abtei Marienmünster, 29-31 March 2012

Experience Classicsonline

At first sight it may seem a curious idea to arrange the music of a composer such as Mendelssohn for quite different forces. His immense skill in orchestration and in choosing and making the most of the resources available to him would suggest that any arrangement would be likely to reduce rather than increase or even equal the quality and character of the original. However the results on this wholly enchanting disc show that in the hands of a skilled arranger new facets of the original can be revealed without being in any way false to the fundamental character of the music.
Perhaps the most surprising success here is the arrangement of the String Quartet in E flat major Op. 44 No. 3. As Irmlind Capelle points out in her interesting note in the booklet, the essence of much string quartet writing is blend whereas wind quintets essentially consist of five separate tone colours which can be added to each other or alternated. Ulf-Guido Schäfer, the clarinettist on this disc, has a superb ear for the underlying and changing textures of the music, using the extra instrument to good effect and never simply substituting the same instruments for a particular line for too long. Wind quintets can be a particularly intractable medium for players and listeners but the result here is a work better scored and more idiomatic than many works originally written for the combination. The character of the music is changed subtly from that of the quartet version but not in a way that is false to the composer. For much of the time indeed there is a real gain in the clarity of texture and, in the first movement especially, in the resulting ability to hear the motivic development better.
Similar comments can be made about the extracts from “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”. The title of the Nocturne meant nothing to me, but as soon as it started it was obvious that this is an arrangement of the so-called Trumpet Overture for a much larger wind and brass group. Unsurprisingly this works particularly well in its new guise and forms an exhilarating end to the programme.
All three works are recorded cleanly and played with panache and sensitivity. This is a disc that can be commended to any enthusiast for the composer’s music who is not allergic in principle to transcriptions as well as to devotees of fine wind playing.  

John Sheppard

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