The works of Franz Danzi did not achieve especially widespread appeal during his lifetime, nor have they been particularly popular in modern times despite the trend of resurrecting lost or unknown compositions. In addition to being a prolific composer, Danzi was quite active as an educator, though his pedagogical achievements are equally unrecognized. While not all of his compositions are necessarily worthy of a second look, his chamber works are of interest. In particular, his wind chamber music finds the composer hard at work advancing his ideals of wind performance and the advocacy of the "new," modernized versions of wind instruments. This set of three piano quintets (for fortepiano plus winds) is an ideal setting. The fortepiano, played by Christine Schornsheim, is clearly the dominant force throughout the three quintets, the winds are given several opportunities to stand alone. Danzi sought a more equal treatment of the wind instruments, even bringing the bassoon out of its more traditional role as a mere bass accompaniment instrument. Playing on period instruments, the members of Das Reicha'sche Quintett do a splendid job of bringing Danzi's music to life, accentuating the peculiarities and nuances of the instruments rather than covering them up. The star of the disc, however, is certainly Schornsheim, whose playing is magnificently intricate and graceful. NCA's sound quality is detailed and clear; listeners enjoying the multichannel SACD layer will especially enjoy the spaciousness and sense of sitting in the midst of these highly talented artists.
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