Winds & Piano – Music by Poulenc, Farrenc, Roussel, Caplet, Mozart, Beethoven, Thuille & Rimsky-Korsakov

Reviewed on Mon 29 Jun, 2015

No one who invested in this starry ensemble's previous release on Warner Classics (reviewed by yours truly on 23 May 2014) should lose time in checking out this hugely rewarding follow-up, for which they are joined by that superbly stylish pianist Eric Le Sage. There are three discs in all. The first launches with Poulenc's deliciously insouciant and touching Sextet (1932) and also contains the captivating, little-heard Sextet and Quintet by respectively Louise Farrenc (1804-75) and André Caplet (1878-1925), as well as Roussel's compact early Divertissement (1906). The pairing on disc two of the piano and wind quintets by Mozart and Beethoven brings performances as eloquent as any in the catalogue, while the final CD couples two more comparative rarities, namely the Sextet by Tyrol-born Ludwig Thuille (1861-1907 – something of a discovery to my ears) and Rimsky-Korsakov's youthful and endearingly garrulous Quintet. Need I add that the playing throughout is simply stunning in its giddy poise and irreproachable musicality? Both the sound and balance, too, in this co-production with Bavarian Radio are flawless. Housed in a sturdy slimline box, this issue is also most competitively priced. Don't delay!
–Andrew Achenbach