This disc caught my attention after seeing the YouTube video of the recording session for one selection on the CD, Guillaume Connesson's Techno Parade. It's a short, quick (literally!) piece, lasting just 4 1/2 minutes. It is a non-stop, high energy, extraordinarily difficult jaunt, quite unlike anything I've experienced. It has to be heard to be believed. Scored for flute, clarinet and piano, it is very modern, yet sounds nothing like the nonsensical noise which is so often associated with "modern music". It is vaguely tonal and positively possessed with rhythmic purpose. The driving, pulsing, rhythmic impetus has such forward momentum, direction and musical substance, it is instantly captivating, intoxicating and absolutely riveting. These players are simply phenomenal. I don't know how they can play this impossibly difficult music with such effortless accomplishment, energy and unfaltering rhythmic security. My only regret is that there isn't more to it. How completely fascinating it would have been if Connesson had compose two more movements to follow it!
The other selections on this disc are scored for woodwind quintet and piano. Starting off the program is Poulenc's marvelous Sextour. This is simply the most vivacious account of the piece I've heard - bringing out the quirkiness and variety of moods like never before. Quick, energetic tempos and incisive articulation combined with musicianship of the highest order make this absolutely exhilarating.
The Beethoven Quintet is equally satisfying, for this wonderful group brings to it many of the same musical attributes, combined with sheer joy. The Barber Summer Music is a lovely piece, and this group again brings the utmost in musicianship and freshness. Indeed, I've never this work sound as richly involving as here.
Unfortunately, the Richard Strauss transcription of Til Eulenspiegel is disappointing after the marvelous originality of the works which precede it. It is a pointless transcription that simply wasn't necessary (it's not like there is a shortage of recordings of the original orchestration). It's well played and all, but I question why this was included, rather than another original work for this group of instruments.
The recording is clean and clear, bold and upfront (but not aggressively so), giving the group enormous presence and impact. The playing is sensational throughout. And aside from the somewhat misguided Strauss, this disc is not to be missed.