Gianluca Luisi

Ludwig Thuille: Sextet; Piano Quintet

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Known now primarily for his longtime correspondence and friendship with Richard Strauss, Ludwig Thuille was a successful, albeit short-lived, German composer in his own right. While Strauss became more and more progressive throughout his career, Thuille remained quite conservative in his compositional tastes. The two chamber works featured on this Naxos album are excellent examples of this conservatism. Though an earlier work, the Op. 6 Sextet (for wind quintet plus piano) is a well-developed composition that incorporates fluid interaction between the six instruments and is highly idiomatic, both for individual instruments as well as a chamber work. The Chantily Quintet is joined on this album by pianist Gianluca Luisi for a light-hearted, well-executed performance. Special kudos to horn player Dmitry Babanov whose tone in the Sextet's many horn solos is exceptionally pure and beautiful. The second half of the program is rather long-winded (at 43-plus minutes) E flat major Piano Quintet. While still a solidly composed work, the quintet lacks some of the organic fluidity and ease that can be found in the Sextet. There's a good deal of part doubling and a fair number of passages that have a difficult time going anywhere. The performance given by Gigli Quartet, joined again by Luisi, is less solid than the sextet. There are some discrepancies in intonation, particularly between the upper strings, and there's an overall lack of enthusiasm felt in their performance.

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