Les Vents Français

French Music for Winds - 20th-Century Wind Quintets

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AllMusic Review by

Here's a two-CD set that can be enjoyed on several different levels. Listeners can prize it for the sheer effervescent tunefulness and fun of the French ensemble pieces on the first CD, balanced by the music on the second disc that, although not French, was all influenced by the French tradition in some way. Pity the dour individual who can't crack a smile during Jacques Ibert's Trois Pièces brèves or the crisp arrangement of Ravel's Le tombeau de Couperin. On the other hand, this is the rare example of a double-CD set that actually justifies its use of the expanded format. The aim of the fine ensemble Les Vents Français (The French Winds) is twofold: it aims to expose the depth of the French tradition of chamber music for winds, and to show its influence on the wider musical world. The program includes some unusual pieces, such as the Wind Quintet of Paul Taffanel, a work of the late 19th century that arguably served as the model for the rest of the music on the album. The major Warner Classics label deserves credit for such adventurous programming, but the album also works perfectly well as background music for an afternoon picnic.

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