Beethoven Chamber Music for Winds

Release Date: February 2018 LINN Records 

Scottish Chamber Orchestra Wind Soloists

Beethoven Chamber Music for Winds

Financial Times, Richard Fairman 4*

It must have been a joy to attend an aristocratic dinner party in the late 18th century, when guests would have been entertained by bubblingly effervescent music from the host’s resident wind band. We may not associate Beethoven with this kind of background music, but he left a few delightful works from his early years. The Sextet and Octet are both congenial and highly skilled (Haydn sent the latter as one of a group of pieces to a patron noting that they showed “Beethoven will in time become one of the greatest musical artists in Europe”). The wind soloists of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra make a lovely job of them and throw in a handful of pleasing miniatures to fill the disc.

The Scotsman, Ken Walton 5*

There is something unquestionably operatic about Beethoven’s Sextet in E flat major for wind instruments. The themes sigh, dance, laugh and bicker like colourful characters on the stage. Some performances miss the point, others simply take it for granted, but this one by the Scottish Chamber Orchestra Wind Soloists is a showstopper, where the very stuff of theatre – its tensions and releases, its compelling narrative vitality and emotional nuances – is played out in scintillating musical terms. Take the wit and bounce of the bassoons, the languid teasing of the clarinets, or the poignant knowingness of the horns. All have biting relevance in this delightful opener to a treasure trove of Music for Winds by Beethoven. The ensemble playing throughout is a magical mix of homogeneity and individuality. When the oboes enter for the Octet in E flat, the sound world both brightens and thickens: another delicious and virtuosic musical adventure.

BBC Radio 3, Andrew McGregor

[Here’s] a recording of Beethoven from the wind soloists from the SCO. It’s tempting to head straight to the famous Beethoven octet but that would mean skipping over the E flat sextet and you really mustn’t. Just listen to the character they bring to the middle movements, starting with Peter Whelan on bassoon.

All the wit and character of all the individual players coming through but yet still at the service of the whole ensemble. Something close to a perfect balance of individuality and team spirit. It works just as well in Beethoven’s more celebrated octet. Between them you have clarinettist Maximiliano Martín joining Peter Whelan for the clarinet and bassoon duo making it a considerably entertaining intermezzo than I ever suspected it was before. Recorded in a church acoustic and attractively resonant, you’ll find Beethoven’s Music for Winds on Linn Records, new this week.

Purchase or download this recording from the Linn Records website.