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A disc offering a most desirable combination of infectious joy and precision playing,
This review is from: Beethoven: Sextet, Op.71; Octet, Op.103; Quintet, H19 (Audio CD)
This well recorded disc first published in 1985 brings together a perfect group of wind works. In addition the playing by the wind soloists of the COE is exceptionally fine with a winning combination of precision and spontaneity.
The major works are the opening sextet and the concluding octet which are on a par with the wind serenades of Mozart. The Quintet was not completed by Beethoven but a very creditable performing edition was produced by Alexander Zellner, an Austrian composer and teacher, in 1862 and it is that which we hear on this disc. Beethoven's original intention seems to have been for a sextet but the clarinet part was never started beyond the clef sign and key signature. In this performing edition the absence of the clarinet is of no consequence. The strangely titles Rondino was a single movement example of 'table music' written for the Elector of Cologne.
All these pieces were early works in terms of Beethoven's entire output and were all completed before 1830 and were therefore conceived very much in the Classical mould. The Sextet was completed in 1796, the incomplete Quintet in 1793, the Rondino in 1792 and the octet in 1792 also. The octet also exists as a string quintet in a later version published in 1796.
As mentioned above in the opening paragraph, the playing here is exemplary with playing notable for its high spirits and evident enjoyment radiating from the players. For those who know the fine discs of the Mozart serenades by the same group, now available as moderately priced re-issues, this disc is easily of a similar standard and may even have the edge.
I note that this is difficult to locate these days and that prices can be very high. However, this does not detract from the fact that the disc is an example of very high performing standards coupled with good recording standards. A reasonably priced re-issue like the Mozart discs would be desirable.