An original quartet of 20th-century wind trios, uniquely coupled on record and performed by an ensemble of distinguished Italian musicians who have worked with many of the world’s great orchestras.
The combination of oboe, clarinet and bassoon attracted several French composers in the first half of the last century and inspired witty and elegant divertissements from the likes of Ibert, Francaix and Poulenc. But the character of the trio held an appeal to composers farther afield, as this album shows, and that appeal was by no means confined to ‘light music’, even if all the music on this album – from Switzerland, Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary – shares a lightness and airiness of texture.
The composers from eastern Europe – Lutosławski, Schulhoff and Veress – all suffered under totalitarian regimes, and Schulhoff died at the hands of the Nazis, but their painful histories do not cast a long shadow over the pieces on this album. In fact, the origins of Lutosławski’s Trio are found precisely in the exercises of counterpoint he realized in the winter of 1944-5, when he had been forced to flee Warsaw, together with his mother, following the consequences of the Warsaw Rising. The Trio is a quirky, restlessly experimental work, as the composer later explained: ‘I was trying to find my bearings in the world of free tonality. […] I chose wind instruments because my research into pitch, rhythm and the organisation of sound could be carried out in the simplest way with their help.’
The wind trio as laboratory also held appeal to Sandor Veress, who found a very personal synthesis of his own research into Hungarian folksong with the 12-tone theories of the Second Viennese School. The outer movements of his Sonatina abound in the madcap humour of his compatriot Ligeti, while the central Andante introduces a gravely memorable theme on the bassoon. Schulhoff’s Divertissement is naturally the most French-sounding work on the album, a set of seven compact character sketches including a Charleston (No.4) and ‘Florida’ (No.6).
Known in some quarters as the ‘Russian Brahms’ from the country of his birth, Paul Juon is the least-known figure here, but not the least accomplished, and his Arabesque is a substantial, four-movement structure launched in fine style by Commodo movement with echoes of Nielsen at his breeziest, followed by a lilting Larghetto, a Minuet that parodies 18th-century manners, and a dashing finale with a more reflective interlude.
This strong concept CD present original works written for oboe, clarinet and bassoon by four 20th century composers: Lutoslawski, Schulhoff, Veress and Juon.
The rare combination of three reed instruments presents the composer with a special challenge in displaying both their kinship and their individual qualities. What they share is their ability for both the agile/virtuosic style and the mellow sound: the juxtaposition of the playful/grotesque and the lyrical presents endless possibilities.
The works presented by the four composers show their individual styles, which are all based on traditional patterns originating in their native countries and culture.
Played by three Italian top soloists, sharing their love for their instruments and the music written for it.