, March 2005
"Comparison Recording of Reicha Wind Quintet:
Op 88 #5 Academia Wind Quintet of Prague, Hyperion CDD22006
These pieces by Beethoven-contemporary Reicha, Professor of Counterpoint and Fugue at the Paris Conservatory, reside among the greatest music ever written. When they were composed they went at once to the "top of the charts" and brought to their composer even greater renown although he was already a popular and respected figure. Reicha did for the wind quintet what Bach did for the keyboard prelude and fugue, what Haydn did for the string quartet, what Mozart did for the symphony that is, he lifted it to Parnassus. It was only the decline in the popularity of wind ensemble music in general that caused these works to fall out of currency, but that situation is being remedied.
Reicha eventually became a French citizen so the French spelling of his name is very often the one encountered; Liszt, Gounod, Berlioz and Franck were among his pupils. One can imagine the collected professors of the Conservatoire as they performed these works in the Grand Foyer of the Théâtre Favart in the years up to 1820. The richness of invention, the tunefulness, the variety of sound qualities, rhythmic variation are endlessly fascinating, endlessly delightful. This is a disk you will enjoy listening to over and over again, and it will make you hunger for more. Good news! There are 22 more quintets yet to hear!
Both recordings are digitally recorded and beautifully performed. There is very little basis to choose between the two, but perhaps the English players have just the slightest edge in playful good spirits. But, then, you get more quintets with the Hyperion two disk set. Since there is only one overlap between the two, you might want to have both as I do. There is no indication that Naxos intend to continue recording more these wonderful and underappreciated works, but lets hope they do."