Summer Music

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The Québec-based wind quintet Pentaèdre is perhaps known more for its inventively offbeat projects -- a winds-only version of Così fan tutte, a Winterreise with wind accompaniment, and providing the accompaniment for an opera by John Metcalf -- than for the standard repertoire for their ensemble. The group's fans don't need to fear that Pentaèdre has strayed too far into the boundaries of conventionality with this release, Summer Music. It does include Samuel Barber's classic work of that name and Villa-Lobos' Quintette en forme de choros, but the remaining works are not exactly standard fare, and all have a distinctly Latinate flavor that irrepressibly summons imagery of tropical warmth. Cuban saxophonist and composer Paquito d'Rivera's 1994 Aires Tropicales, a euphonious, easygoing suite of seven Latin American dances, many with a distinctly Afro-Cuban flavor, is the closest of the new works to becoming a classic, with an ever increasing number of performances and recordings. Bandoneon player and composer Denis Plante was born in Montréal, but he has spent almost his entire career focused on the dance music of South America, and his appealing Suite Piedra libre aptly demonstrates his mastery of the idioms. Dos Tropicos by Canadian composer and bassoonist Mathieu Lussier is a similar work in its tone of humid languor and sultry passion. Nestled in this setting of such explicitly evocative heat, the mood of Barber's Summer Music seems even more brilliantly summery than when heard on its own; that impression is certainly heightened by Pentaèdre's exceptionally ebullient performance, and the group's playing throughout is at the same elevated standard. Atma's sound is absolutely clean and nicely atmospheric. This is an album that should delight fans of the adventurous quintet and anyone who appreciates the intersection between Western classical and Latin American popular traditions.

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