Abrahamsen: Works for Wind Quintet

Reviewed on Fri 10 Jun, 2016

Schumann’s Kinderszenen (all of it) works well on wind instruments in Abrahamsen’s imaginative yet respectful version, retaining its intimacy and bittersweet remembrances, not least the familiar ‘Träumerei’.

The Danish composer Hans Abrahamsen (born 1952) is a master of exquisitely composed music that says much through brevity and refinement. He also acknowledges the musical past, as his arrangements of Ravel and Schumann on this disc illustrate. Whether original or transcribed, all the pieces here are for the traditional woodwind quintet, and Abrahamsen once studied the French horn. His Landskaber (Landscapes, 1972) and Walden (Woods, 1978) both prove intriguing; sometimes doleful and strident (with a debt to Stravinsky) in the former, and something rather more enigmatic in the latter. The listener is beguiled by the expression and the timbres. Schumann’s Kinderszenen (all of it) works well on wind instruments in Abrahamsen’s imaginative yet respectful version, retaining its intimacy and bittersweet remembrances, not least the familiar ‘Träumerei’, while Le Tombeau de Couperin, utilising Ravel’s orchestral adaptation rather than his six-movement piano suite, finds the oboe remaining at the forefront. All-round excellence.
–Colin Anderson