Dorian Wind Quintet

Retrospectacular

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The Dorian Wind Quintet, formed at the Tanglewood music festival in Massachusetts in 1961, has continued to exist through several cycles of personnel changes. The idea of the ensemble, which is what endures through those changes, is perhaps an across-the-board ambition for the wind quintet repertory: the group has played existing wind quintet repertory, commissioned arrangements of works in other media (including a late Beethoven string quartet and the Bach Goldberg Variations excerpted here), premiered new works, and dug into the archives to find obscure but worthy wind pieces. All those efforts are in evidence on this two-disc "Tetrospectacular," but that's not what makes it really unusual among releases of this kind. It's hard to think of another album collecting the playing of an ensemble over the years that does what this one does: with the exception of a pair of demo recordings made shortly after the group's formation, the music heard here was all recorded before live audiences. The aim of demonstrating the quintet's artistic ambitions took priority over sonic considerations; a 1973 recording of the Reicha Quintet for winds in E flat major, Op. 88/2, was included despite poor sound because the group chose to perform the original score instead of the shortened version that's usually heard. The Dorian Wind Quintet has had several members who have gone on to individual prominence, and there are moments of impressive individual virtuosity, like the horn work of David Jolley in the finale of the wind arrangement of Beethoven's String Quintet in E flat major, Op. 4 (itself a reworking of an early wind quintet). But what makes this release stand out is its refusal to remove the music to an abstract realm, divorced from the production of sound in front of an audience. The notes trace the group's journeys of musical discovery as well as the history of its composition, and the cover photo, showing the current members in color with black-and-white images of their predecessors in the background, seems as though it would be corny but is quite effective.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
Pièces brèves (3), for wind quintet
1
2:14
2
9:20
Woodwind Quintet in E minor, Op. 88/1
3
7:03
4
2:05
Woodwind Quintet in E flat major, Op. 88/2
5
4:40
Goldberg Variations, for keyboard (Clavier-Übung IV), BWV 988 (BC L9)
6
1:57
7
1:04
8
1:15
9
1:07
10
3:55
11
1:13
12
3:22
13
1:42
14
5:01
Quintet for winds, Op 95
15
4:08
16
6:08
Wind Quintet No. 4
17
5:17
18
5:42
blue highlight denotes track pick