Various Artists

Beethoven: Wind Music

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While this may not be the last set of Deutsche Grammophon's 1997 Beethoven edition the listener gets to -- surely the seven discs of folk-song arrangements have that dubious distinction -- it is certainly near the bottom of the list. After all, how appealing are a couple of divertimentos operating under assumed names, a couple of trios for oboes and English horn, a set of three funeral pieces for four trombones, and seven marches for military band? Actually, they are all very appealing, especially in these fine performances. The octet and septet are delightfully played by members of the Berlin Philharmonic with enough zest to keep even the drowsy listener attentive. The two trios are superlatively played by oboists Heinz Holliger and Hans Elhorst and English hornist Maurice Bourgue with enough wit to keep the dullest listener amused. The Equali (3) are wonderfully played by members of the Philip Jones Brass Ensemble with enough gravitas to keep even the dimmest listener aware of the funereal associations of the music. And the seven marches are played with panache and power by the winds, brass, and tympani of the Berlin Philharmonic with enough gusto to keep even the dumbest listener ready to charge into battle. This may or may not be the last set of the Beethoven edition that listeners get to, but they will surely be delighted when they do.

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