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Bruce M. Creditor
Quintessence - The Wind Quintet Informant, September 2012

Performances of the Sextet benefit from careful pacing and phrasing, and it receives all of this and more in this Naxos recording. The long-range forms are clear, and the solo playing and ensemble blending/balancing are exemplary. This is a work that deserves to be in the repertoire of quintets that are still getting their “chops” together and with fine pianists in the neighborhood. It would also be a rewarding piece to coach an ensemble to performance. © 2012 Quintessence - The Wind Quintet Informant

Scott Noriega
Fanfare, August 2010

Though Ludwig Thuille (1861–1907) is perhaps best remembered today for his association with Richard Strauss, he was an admirable pianist and composer in his own right. After having been orphaned at the age of 11—the deaths of both of his parents occurring in the short span of only five years—Thuille was fortunate enough to be taken in by family in Kremsmünster, in Upper Austria. It was here that he became a chorister in the Benedictine Abbey, which allowed him to study music: the piano, the organ, the violin, and composition. In 1876, through the generous support of the widow of the composer and conductor Matthäus Nagiller, he moved to Innsbruck, where he continued his studies in theory, piano, and organ with Joseph Pembauer, and where he made his first acquaintance with Richard Strauss. A few years later he went to study with Josef Rheinberger at the Königliche Musikschule in Munich. It was in this city that he met one of his most important musical influences, the man who introduced him to the works of Richard Wagner, Alexander Ritter. Thuille went on to teach composition and theory at the Akademie der Tonkunst (the then renamed Königliche Musikschule), where he exuded his own influence on the following generation—students such as Ernest Bloch and Hermann Abendroth were among his more famous pupils. Throughout his unfortunately short life, he cultivated a conservative style of composition somewhere between Brahms and Reger, writing in many prevalent genres: opera, symphony, and concerto; but perhaps his most important contributions come in the realm of chamber music.

The music presented here shows the composer’s mastery of larger formal structures, and perhaps because of the sextet’s unique instrumentation, a good, even mature, sense of that Wagnerian color that Ritter’s influence imparted. Thuille’s use of timbre is evident everywhere, from the delicate pizzicato fugato theme in the Allegro risoluto of the quintet to the opening gestures of the piano murmur and solo horn entry in the Allegro moderato of the sextet, where at least in the latter example, the ensemble has a bit too cool an approach with the music for my taste. There is a grandeur that is missing. In the larger movements, I often wished for more—more momentum, bigger climaxes, greater overall passion. The strengths of these musicians lie then, perhaps, in the same places as that of the composer: the shorter movements. I came away with the impression, at least in the masterly third-movement Gavotte in the sextet, that Thuille was the long-lost Austrian cousin of Edvard Grieg. There is a fantastical, almost fairytale-like quality to this dance movement, one that is magnified in its simplicity of design, and its ever-changing and clever use of instrumentation—one that is also brought out best by the ensemble, which here captures the spirit of the music perfectly. This is music that is too little known, and music that would appeal to anyone interested in late 19th-century Germanic music, from Bruckner and Strauss to Reger and Schmidt. Though I sometimes came away with the feeling that these musicians have a rather cool acceptance of the greatness of this music, instead of an active engagement and re-creation of it, there are far too many moments of good, solid music-making not to recommend this release, which is, in addition, recorded in very good sound. A treat at the price.

Zach Carstensen
The Gathering Note, June 2010

Thuille’s Sextet suffers from the same convoluted style that makes the quintet such a difficult piece for audiences to enjoy or musicians to play. Both groups find their way through Thuille’s thicket of notes, making sense of the pieces in spite of the composer.

Don O’Connor
American Record Guide, March 2010

The playing exhibits beauty of string tone, combined with elegance of balance from pianist Luisi. His tonal colors sound ideal, from the lightest background figurations to the deepest foundation parts. Thuille is a little known post-romantic who, like so many of that generation, deserves better. Here, at least, his music gets it.

To read the complete review, please visit American Record Guide online.

Bart Verhaeghe
Fanfare, December 2009

Thuille was a contemporary and personal friend of Richard Strauss. The fact that it took him two years to complete his Sextet probably means he saw the work as his magnum opus…Both the Chantily Quintet and the Gigli String Quartet play tidily, and are well balanced and involved. Gianluca Luisi’s contributions at the piano in both works are intelligent and involved. It must be said that the recording engineers did a great job as well. The sound is full-bodied, clear, and focused.

Giv Cornfield
The New Recordings, Cliffs Classics, September 2009

I recall being introduced to Thuille’s very Brahmsian-sounding Sextet for piano and winds by Vernon Duke, founder of the Society for Forgotten Music (SFM). The LP recording we made at the time (1972) was a ‘first’, and created quite a stir among critics. This new recording is excellent in every respect, and the companion work is no less impressive. Pianist Gianluca Luisi is a powerhouse pianist, and both chamber ensembles are finely attuned to the late-Romantic idiom.

Mike D. Brownell, September 2009


Known now primarily for his long-time correspondence and friendship with Richard Strauss, Ludwig Thuille was a successful, albeit short-lived, German composer in his own right. While Strauss became more and more progressive throughout his career, Thuille remained quite conservative in his compositional tastes. The two chamber works featured on this Naxos album are excellent examples of this conservatism. Though an earlier work, the Op. 6 Sextet (for wind quintet + piano) is a well-developed composition that incorporates fluid interaction between the six instruments and is highly idiomatic, both for individual instruments as well as a chamber work. The Chantily Quintet is joined on this album by pianist Gianluca Luisi for a light-hearted, well-executed performance. Special kudos to horn player Dmitry Babanov whose tone in the Sextet’s many horn solos is exceptionally pure and beautiful.

J Scott Morrison, August 2009

Thuille’s Best Chamber Music Works

The all-but-forgotten Ludwig Thuille (1861–1907) was a classmate of Richard Strauss’s and remained his friend until his early death. He succeeded his teacher, Josef Rheinberger, as professor of composition at the Royal Music School in Munich. And although he was early influenced by Liszt and Wagner, his Sextet sounds more like Brahms. Thuille was a master of memorable melody and Brahmsian formal construction. Thuille had French ancestry and there is more than a soupçon of Gallic wit in this music, particularly in the first and third movements…This present performance is by pianist Gianluca Luisi and yet another German group, the Chantily Quintet whose home, fittingly, is Munich where they are principals in the Munich Philharmonic. I quite like this new performance and believe it stands alongside…earlier recordings. Indeed, I think they catch the French insouciance of the music better than the other ensembles.

The Piano Quintet, played here by Luisi and the Gigli Quartet (named, oddly enough, for Golden Age tenor Beniamino Gigli), is a more mature work, Thuille’s Op. 20, with somewhat more chromatic harmonies and more complex construction. The work’s counterpoint and harmonic complexity are particularly skillful. It is actually Thuille’s second piano quintet; the first is a student work…But I am pleased that these two works, Thuille’s best chamber works, are for the first time together on one budget-priced CD in fine performances.

David Denton
David's Review Corner, August 2009

A forgotten member of the self-styled Munich School at the beginning of the 20th century, the name of Ludwig Thuille only crops up nowadays through his friendship with Richard Strauss. His younger life was difficult having lost both parents while a child, and it was largely through the help of friends that he was able to study music. He eventually became professor of composition at Munich’s Royal Music School where he succeeded his mentor, Rheinberger. His circle of friends took their influences from Liszt and Wagner, while Brahms also ever present in their musical background. If Thuille’s name still remains as a composer, it is largely due to the Sextet of 1888 scored for flute, oboe, clarinet, horn, bassoon and piano, the instruments introducing themselves at the beginning of the score with a statement of the first theme. As one would expect, with his background, it was Brahms and Wagner that shaped his ideas, but the thematic material is both strong and readily memorable, the spiky little third movement introduced by the oboe is sheer delight, Thuille’s skilfully writing for the piano, both as accompanying and solo instrument, creating a wonderfully entertaining vivace. In sum, this is a work you must hear as it will give so such enjoyment. The Piano Quintet came thirteen years later, and if Brahms had composed the work, this big and powerful score would have been acclaimed. its rather naughty scherzo, with its viola solo, being a most likeable movement. The performances of the Sextet by the German-based Chantily Quintet, and the Piano Quintet from the German-Italian Gigli Quartet, are linked by the fine Italian pianist, Gianluca Luisi. Add very good sound, and you have a disc that I beg you to hear.

Naxos Records, a member of the Naxos Music Group