Westwood Wind Quintet: Augmented - read my review
Buy the CD
Pacific Northwest-based Westwood Wind Quintet’s new CD titled Augmented (Crystal Records CD791) is just that, a delightful and not often heard collection of works for wind quintet and sundry additional instruments. Paul Hindemith’s Septet for Woodwind Quintet, Trumpet, and Bass Clarinet; Mládi for Woodwind Quintet and Bass Clarinet by Leos Janácek; Bruce Stark’s beautifully crafted and satisfying Americana Wind Quintet; and William Mathias’ less is more Concertino for Flute, Oboe, Bassoon, and Piano together offer a unique window on this diverse repertoire for chamber winds. Westwood Wind Quintet oboist and Crystal Records founder Peter Christ and Westwood regulars John Barcellona (flute), William Helmers (clarinet), Patricia Nelson (bassoon), and John Cox (horn) are joined for this recording by colleagues Doug Reneau (Trumpet), Carol Robe (bass clarinet), and Lisa Bergman (piano). All are first rate professionals from various ensembles and orchestras in the Pacific Northwest and beyond.
California-born and educated now Seattle-based composer Bruce Stark’s Americana Wind Quintet (2009) is the takeaway discovery on this CD. A jewel, Stark’s quintet is gorgeous, engaging, complexly structured, and intellectually rewarding. Its four movements are as expansive as the American spirit, with lots of nice ensemble writing, delicious coloring, and motivic ideas cleverly linked by threads of repetition and special effect. With evocative titles like Hymn to the Dawn, River Song, and City Shuffle Stark’s quintet is chock-o-block with musical imagery evoking the vast American landscape, physical and otherwise. Stark also enjoys an exceptional understanding of the wind palette that is on splendidly salutary display throughout the work – a listening pleasure for professional musicians and lay listeners alike. The Westwood Wind Quintet turns in a thoughtful, balanced performance.
A pantheon of subtle shades and distilled emotions, Paul Hindemith’s Septet (1948) is rich in wind color and coyness. The trumpet is given a particularly delicate and challenging chamber music role, realized with grace and gorgeous tone by Doug Reneau who has been Assistant Principal Trumpet of the Oregon Symphony since 2014. Other highlights of the Hindemith include a beautifully expressive clarinet soliloquy played with sensitivity by William Helmers in the first Intermezzo and superb ensemble playing in the complicated Variationen. Carol Lobe’s additional bass clarinet timbre is captured beautifully. Westwood’s take on Janácek’s four-movement Mládi (Youth) from 1924 features nice horn licks by John Cox, Principal with the Oregon Symphony since 1982. Congrats to Chrystal Records’ recording engineers for beautifully capturing the rich sonority of Robe’s bass clarinet here as well. A valuable addition to the collections of wind audiophiles Augmented is also an important reference CD for those looking for unique programming.
Daniel Kepl | Performing Arts Review
Westwood Wind Quintet - John Barcellona flute; William Helmers clarinet; John Cox horn; Patricia Nelson bassoon; Peter Christ oboe
American composer Bruce Stark
Doug Reneau trumpet
Carol Robe bass clarinet
Lisa Bergman piano