In the 1960s, Ligeti wrote some of the most intense music being written at the time, and suffice to say that ensembles that tackled his Wind Quintet frequently played up the dissonances. This was not a bad thing -- there are not many bad recordings of Ligeti in circulation -- but nearing the end of the millennium it became clear that a sunnier exuberance also existed in many of his scores. Quintetto Arnold was perhaps the first recording wind quintet to bring out the less pensive, audibly clearer side of the material. This ensemble has nearly unlimited technique and internalizes the individual languages of demanding composers with apparent ease. As well, their renditions usually emphasize a love for music that precludes solemnity, and their good nature flows into this work with little to stop it. The result is not cloying or cartoonish. Rather, the dancing undertones of many submerged rhythms are revealed better than in most other versions. As do the Arditti String Quartet's renditions of the Hungarian composer's quartets, the Quintetto Arnold reveals the metric panache of Ligeti's chamber music better than do many other qualified chamber groups. Listeners have here an opportunity to hear this great work performed -- perhaps for the first time -- without any of the opaque enigmas that stand between the listener and the score. The result is gratifying, and, above all, lucid.
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AllMusic Review by John Keillor
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