Bergen Woodwind Quintet

Jean Françaix: Quintets; Quartet; Divertissement

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The chamber music of French composer Jean Françaix, whose career ran from the era of Les Six almost down to the present day, offers numerous small pleasures, of which this group of wind pieces, dating from 1927 to 1987, contains representative examples. The composer's style evolved only in details over that long period. Françaix's works are stylistically conservative, densely contrapuntal, yet light in mood and high-spirited like those of most of his French contemporaries. The wind writing here is quite difficult, and a pure delight to hear in the hands of Norway's Bergen Woodwind Quintet, whose endurance in producing clean lines of counterpoint over long stretches is impressive. They render colorful effects like the intentional squawking in the first movement of the Wind Quintet No. 1 (1948), which would seem jazz-like were the music not placed in a slightly different context, very skillfully. And as usual, the Hybrid Super Audio sound from BIS, whose engineers worked in a Protestant church in a small island town near Bergen, is strong enough to provide audiophiles with a reason for purchase all by themselves. Beyond those fortunate folk, this can be recommended to anyone wishing to sample the music of Françaix, an hour of which goes a long way.

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