Ma'alot Quintett

Rossini: Harmoniemusik for Wind Quintet

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The music of operas from the late Classical and early Romantic eras was frequently disseminated in arrangements, so it would have been familiar to far wider audiences (and performers) than simply opera-goers. These arrangements were frequently for wind ensembles, known as Harmoniemusik. The typical Harmonie ensemble of the period consisted of eight winds: a double quartet of oboes, clarinets, bassoons and horns, sometimes adding a double bass. This modern arrangement of music from two Rossini operas by Ulf-Guido Schäfer, while made for the more conventional wind quintet, is fully in the spirit of the Harmoniemusik arrangements of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, featuring the musical highlights of the operas in idiomatic and graceful scoring. Tancredi, one of Rossini's earliest operas and his first big success, is rarely revived, but the alto aria Di tanti palpiti remains a recital favorite. La cenerentola is still among his most frequently performed works, and its lighthearted tone makes it ideal for the wind quintet, an ensemble whose constitution makes it especially suited to conveying humor and whimsicality. The arrangements are so skillfully done and so successful as integrated musical works that they are likely to delight general audiences who are fans of music of this period and warm the hearts of wind quintets everywhere that are looking for quality material to augment their limited repertoire. The Ma'alot Quintet, in which Schäfer serves as clarinetist, delivers a virtuosically assured performance, playing with beguiling charm and zesty sparkle. MDG's sound is, as usual, warmly present, and vivid.

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