SAINT-SAËNS: Piano Quartet in B flat, Op. 41. Piano Quintet in A minor, Op. 14. Barcarolle in F, Op. 108.
Fine Arts Quartet.Christina Ortiz, piano
NAXOS 8.572904 TT: 71:12

VILLA-LOBOS: Dime perche (guitar version by Andrea Bissoli). Valsa Concerto No. 2 (completed by Bisson). Sexteto Místico. Introduçao aos Chorus. Choros No. 1. Chorus No. 6. Cançao de Amor.
Andrea Bissoli, guitar ;Gabriella Pace, soprano, Ensemble Musagèe
NAXOS 8.573116 TT: 62:31

STRAUSS: Sonatine No. 1 in F. Sonatine No. 2 in E flat
Armonia Ensemble
BERLIN CLASSICS 300576 TT: 67:02

RIES: Notturno No. 1 WoO 50. Notturno No. 2 WoO 60. MOZART: Partita in B flat KV 361 "Gran Partita"
Schweizer Bläserensemble
CPO 777 618 TT: 64:41

MOZART: Clarinet Quintet in A, K. 581.WEBER: Clarinet Quintet in B flat, Op. 34.
Eduard Brenner, clarinet; Hagen Quartet
DGG 476 6975 TT: 56:20


We are, once again, indebted to Naxos for their enterprise in recording unusual repertory. The Saint-Saêns disk is particularly valuable, offering the delectable Piano Quartet in B flat and the Piano Quintet in A minor, both four-movement works of charm. A major bonus is inclusion of Barcarolle, Op. 108, a ten-minute work played here in the composer's version for piano, violin, viola and cello. It is a gem! The brilliant pianist Christina Ortiz is sensitively accompanied by the Fine Arts Quartet in recordings made in 2012. Wonderfully natural sound...this is a true winner in every way!

Another engrossing issue is the second of three Naxos disks devoted to guitar transcriptions by Anda Bissoli whose devotion to the composer is obvious in these loving presentations. Also featured is the virtuoso Minas Gerals Philharmonic and their conductor Fabio Mechetti who give a brilliant performance of Choros No. 6, perfectly capturing the many moods of the work. And to top it off, we have the brief (4:39) Cançao de Amor an exquisite miniature for soprano and guitar originally written for the film Forest of the Amazon. It is a treasure indeed. Superb audio throughout - don't miss this captivating CD. Thank you again, Naxos!

Richard Strauss described much of the music he composed during the final years of his life as, "workshop works to keep the right hand, freed from the baton, from dozing off too soon." During that time he wrote his oboe concerto, second horn concerto, and Metamorphosen, as well as the two works on this new disk. The two sonatines are more or less in the style of Mozart, . The first has three movements, two allegros separated by a romanza; the second has four, opening and closing allegros plus an andante and a minuet. These are performed to perfection by the 16 playerss of Armonia Ensemble, all members of the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra. Excellent, natural stereo sound..

Ferdinand Ries (1784-1838) was Beethoven's teacher and mentor, and quality of his music is evidenced by a number of recent recordings, particularly his opera Die Räuberbraut ("The Robber Bride") recently mentioned on this site (REVIEW).. Here we have what appear to be first recordings of two charming nocturnos scored for flute, 2 clarinets, horn, and 2 bassoons. The first has five movements, the second has four, including lively marches and scherzos. Delightful in every way. It is unfortunate more Ries isn;t t included; instead we have music of Mozart, a partita that is a reduced version of the Grand Partita KV 361, The superb performances are by the group known as Swiss Wind Soloists, comprised of players from the Suisse Romande and Stuttgart Opera orchestras. Excellent audio. A fine issue in CPO's series of disks devoted to this important composer.

The CD of Mozart/Weber clarinet quintets is rather odd in that the brief program notes say nothing about the featured soloist, Eduard Brunner, who long has played a major role in the musical world of the clarinet. He has held major positions with a number of orchestras, and commissioned concertos by Edison Denisov, Jean Françaix, Ernst Bloch and Christobal Halffter. He already has made over 200 rewordings often collaborating with other famous artists. These recordings of Mozart and Weber quintets, were made well over two decades ago and long have been available. Now we have them at a somewhat reduced price. Superlative quality throughout.

R.E.B. (July 2014)