Seasons: 20th Century Music for Wind Quintet
If the wind quintet genre has it's origins in the early 19th century, it was during the 20th that it came of age. The possibilities that the combination of flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon and horn offered in terms of sounds and musical character were exploited to the full by composers such as Carl Nielsen, Paul Hindemith and Darius Milhaud. Once the ensemble had become firmly established, it also became common practice to add instruments, or to vary the timbres in other ways. In his Septuor, Charles Koechlin included not only an alto saxophone but also a cor anglais, the same instrument that Heitor Villa-Lobos replaced the (French) horn with in the Quintette en forme de Choros. One of the most extreme cases in the literature, however, is Hans-Werner Henze's L'autunno 'for five players of wind instruments', in which each player is required to perform on almost all the related instruments in the family of his main instrument, resulting in an instrumentarium ranging from piccolo flute to Wagner tuba and contrabassoon. Together with three other compositions, Henze's autumnal piece has lent it's name to the discs included in this box set, the others being Printemps by Henri Tomasi, Samuel Barber's Summer Music and Winter Songs, Brett Dean's settings of five poems by E. E. Cummings for tenor and wind quintet. Individually released by the Berlin Philharmonic Wind Quintet between 1992 and 2003, these four discs are here gathered into a full seasonal cycle: A catalogue of 20th-century music for wind quintet, performed by an ensemble that a reviewer in BBC Music Magazine has described as follows: 'Accustomed to working together with the world's most gifted and demanding conductors, the five players distil all the discipline, versatility and musical characterization that is demanded of them daily. They combine this with the mutual generosity and tangible sense of enjoyment of those just freed from the maestro's yoke.'