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Posted August 29, 2011
Ironically enough, Strauss' love affair with the woodwind family occupied the composer at the outset of his long career with the Serenade of 1881 and culminated with the 2 Sonatinas of 1943-45 near its conclusion. Strauss' technical and intuitive grasp of instrumentation often found its most eloquent, urbane outlet in the body of works he specifically devised for winds. There is an ease of expression here that is uniquely refreshing. Absent is the sturm und drang of the tone poems or the bravura of the stage works. Perhaps it was the composer's admiration of Mozart's achievements in this realm that was the primary catalyst. Regardless, this is a significant subset of the composer's output which is often overlooked. Thanks to Newton Classics for reinstating this highly prized package from the 1970's. As expected, the Netherlands Wind Ensemble does a terrific job with this repertory: ensemble, intonation, phrasing, balance and rhythmic precision are all given their proper due. Despite some significant competition, this set rises to the top of the pile by virtue of its ambitious scope as well as the inclusion of the lovely Oboe Concerto as performed by Heinz Holliger. Sonics are Grade A: an ideal blend of transparency and warmth. Packaging and liner notes are exemplary.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.