French Chamber Music for Woodwinds Vol.1 CACD1017, 2 CDs
French Chamber Music for Woodwinds Vol.2 CACD1018 2 CDs
For the first time, this collection brings together the complete woodwind chamber music of France's leading composers in the medium: Debussy, Saint-Saëns, Ravel and Poulenc. In a set which evinces the now familiar Cala hallmark of creatively combining established treasures with enticing discoveries—including here four world première recordings. Volume One presents the works of Debussy and Saint-Saëns and Volume Two those of Ravel and Poulenc. Each volume contains two full-length CDs (well over two hours of music) for the price of one
Chamber works written primarily for the voice were excluded, since woodwind participation tends to be incidental. This situation is reversed, however, in Poulenc's rarely heard Rapsodie nègre, which contains one movement involving a vocalist singing gibberish!
The works are performed by nineteen soloists, headed by William Bennett flute, Nicholas Daniel oboe and James Campbell clarinet, each of whom is joined by his regular duo partner, Clifford Benson, Julius Drake and John York respectively. Combined, these duos have been playing for over 50 years! Rachel Gough, Principal Bassoonist of the BBC Symphony Orchestra, completes the wind quartet.
All of the supporting artists are foremost musicians in their own right, from the Allegri String Quartet—including solo contributions by Peter Carter violin and Roger Tapping viola—to Richard Watkins horn.
Extensive and illuminating programme notes to both volumes are provided by Saint-Saëns biographer James Harding. Nicholas Daniel writes in Volume One about the origins of the Debussy Rapsodie for saxophone/cor anglais.
"The attractiveness of these discs lies in their pricing, their exhaustivity, and the excellence of some of the performances" CD Review, Dec 94
"It is music of great personality (L'Invitation au chateau)...It is, in fact, delectable and the musicians milk it for all it is worth without straying beyond the boundaries of reasonably good taste.I enjoyed these four discs enormously and recommend them with few reservations." Classic CD, Dec 94