One of the most grown-up review sites around


Search MusicWeb Here

     
  
 

 

International mailing


  Founder: Len Mullenger             Senior Editor: John Quinn               Contact Seen and Heard here  

Some items
to consider


16th-19th November


Shostakovich 4, 11 Nelsons
Transparent Granite!


Nothing but Praise


BrucKner 4 Nelsons
the finest of recent years.

superb BD-A sound

This is a wonderful set


Telemann continues to amaze


A superb disc

Performances to cherish

An extraordinary disc.

rush out and buy this

I favour above all the others

Frank Martin - Exemplary accounts

Asrael Symphony
A major addition


Another Bacewicz winner


match any I’ve heard


An outstanding centenary collection


personable, tuneful, approachable


a very fine Brahms symphony cycle.


music that will be new to most people


telling, tough, thoughtful, emotionally fleet and powerfully recorded


hitherto unrecorded Latvian music

 


Support us financially by purchasing this from

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)
Sextet in E flat major, Op. 71 (1796) [17:05]
Duo for Clarinet and Bassoon, WoO 27, No. 1 (1790-91) [10:43]
Octet in E flat major, Op. 103 (1792-93, rev. 1795) [19:44]
Rondino in E flat major, WoO 25 (1792-93) [5:41]
March in B flat major, WoO 29 (1797-98) [1:21]
Scottish Chamber Orchestra Wind Soloists
rec. 2016, North Leith Parish Church, Edinburgh
LINN CKD572 [55:13]

This is an attractive collection of Beethoven’s wind music, all from early in his career despite the high opus numbers on two of the works. While Mozart’s influence is everywhere present, Beethoven’s own thumbprints are also unmistakable. The Scottish Chamber Orchestra (SCO), as is their normal practice for music of this era, employs natural (valveless) horns but modern woodwinds. The horns provide a nice, rustic sound that still blends well with the woodwinds. All the works on the programme are tuneful and idiomatically scored. The Duo for Clarinet and Bassoon, one of three such pieces, though, is of questionable origin. While those pieces are charming, there is “little stylistic evidence to prove their authenticity,” so states Colin Lawson in his informative notes in this disc’s booklet.

The Sextet and Octet, both in the key of E flat, are definitely by Beethoven and are delightful works scored with distinction. The Sextet, composed in 1796, had to wait until 1805 for its first performance and was published only five years later. Thus, its high opus number which makes it appear to follow the Fifth and Sixth Symphonies. Its instrumentation of clarinets, bassoons, and horns dates back to a well-established mid-eighteenth century tradition. The work’s four movements, Allegro (with an Adagio introduction), Adagio, Menuetto (with Trio), and Rondo finale, also follow Viennese tradition. The SCO musicians perform splendidly, seeming to really enjoy what they are doing, and the sound is state of the art.

I first got to know the Octet many years ago from a treasured Chamber Music from Marlboro LP that also contained DvořŠk’s Wind Serenade. I haven’t heard that Beethoven recording for many years, but I can confidently say the SCO musicians are as good here and provide real pleasure. It is thought Beethoven composed this Harmoniemusik, comprising two each of oboes, clarinets, bassoons, and horns, for his patron in Bonn, Elector Maximilian Franz. As with the Sextet, the Octet was published long after its composition—this time in 1830 after Beethoven’s death. However, there was an earlier version of the work, the String Quintet, Op. 4, published in 1796. Like the Rondino, also in E flat and originally intended as part of the Octet, this work features the horn in some passages. Its virtuoso horn runs near the end of the first movement are particularly notable. Alec Frank-Gemmill and Harry Johnstone play them supremely well, but then, all of the instrumentalists are first rate. The Octet, like the Sextet, is in four movements, but here the third movement Menuetto is really a scherzo that anticipates similar movements in later Beethoven.

The Rondino has similar scoring to that of the Octet, and the clarinet’s use of the chalumeau register is noteworthy. Duetting horns begin the piece with a songful melody and are muted near the end of the work as the music dies away, creating a strange effect. In addition to the rather inconsequential Clarinet and Bassoon Duo, the programme contains an occasional piece, the March in B flat that starts quietly, as if from a distance, and gradually becomes louder until it appears in the foreground. This short march, which concludes the disc, acts as an appropriate encore to what has preceded it.

In every way these are exemplary performances in clear, close, but warm sound of some of Beethoven’s lighter music, which warrant an enthusiastic recommendation from me. Linn has encased the CD in an attractive bi-fold album with a pocket for the booklet that contains photos and notes about each of the SCO musicians and a well-written discussion of the works.

Leslie Wright

Previous review: Simon Thompson


 




Advertising on
Musicweb



Donate and keep us afloat

 

New Releases

Naxos Classical


Nimbus Podcast


Obtain 10% discount


Special offer 50% off

Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable
(THE Polish label)
Altus 10% off
Atoll 10% off
CRD 10% off
Hallé 10% off
Lyrita 10% off
Nimbus 10% off
Nimbus Alliance
Prima voce 10% off
Red Priest 10% off
Retrospective 10% off
Saydisc 10% off
Sterling 10% off


Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing
sample

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
   
Rob Barnett
Senior Editor
John Quinn
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
Editor in Chief
   Vacant
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger