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19th Century French Music for Winds

Adolphe édouard Marie Deslandres, Charles édouard Lefebvre, André Georges Louis Onslow, Claude-Paul Taffanel

Katherine Fink, Flute
Tamar Beach Wells, Oboe
Kathryn Taylor, Clarinet
Dan Culpepper, Horn
Wayne Hileman, Bassoon



"the Borealis players deliver impressive performances. They not only have elegance and style, but they seem to have absorbed the notes into their bones, returning free and "natural" accounts. A disc to savor."
Steve Schwartz, ClassicalNet - April 2012
"The Borealis Wind Quintet has a marvelous blend that is a joy to hear. They bring their copious combined talents to "lesser" works that were originally designed for the "salon." More specifically, works that were intended to be played by gifted amateurs who gathered after dinner to play works for their family and friends that were composed to charm. How much more charming then, to have them presented here together played by accomplished profesionals, like a dessert tray after fine dining. "Lesser known composers" and "chamber works" can be perjorative terms in the music world, but here is tangible proof that these works can give as much joy as any "major" work by a "great" composer."
DPR Radio - May 2011
“the Borealis Quintet has assembled an assortment of nineteenth century French pieces by composers who are mostly obscure to modern audiences, but whose works are charming and elegant… [the works by DesLandres, Onslow and Lefebvre] are relative rarities [and] are substantial, witty, and gracefully crafted light works that should delight fans of wind music, and of conservative Romantic chamber music. The Borealis Wind Quintet plays them with the requisite flair and panache and with lovely, clear tone and an unusually beautiful blend, something that is not always easy to achieve with this combination of instruments. MSR's sound is clean and warmly immediate.” [ * * * * ]
Stephen Eddins, All Music Guide - 2011
" appealing programme... The performances are excellent, with tight ensemble. A highly attractive disc."
[ * * * * ] BBC Music Magazine - May 2010
"This elegant and charming album... has a lot for the two types of people for whom it has anything at all—those who enjoy hearing exemplary chamber ensembles comprising flute, oboe, clarinet, horn, and bassoon, and those who enjoy making the acquaintance of unjustly overlooked 19th-century French composers. From Claude-Paul Taffanel's Quintette Pour Instruments à Vent, which opens the program, to Charles Édouard Lefebvre's Suite, Op. 57, which closes it, the works fully deserve the revivification they receive herein."
Arsenio Orteza, World Magazine - March 2010
Patrick Hanudel, American Record Guide
"The excellent Borealis Wind Quintet... All the music is extremely pleasant listening... treated skillfully."
Turok's Choice, Issue No.217 - January 2010
"...a release like this reminds you in the bluntest way that even an avid listener can completely miss out on entire genres and even centuries of enjoyable music. Unless you are a buff of wind chamber music odds are you haven't heard much 19th century French wind repertoire. But after hearing the Borealis Wind Quintet deliver some with elegance and spirit, [you'll] wish that hadn't been the case. Borealis captures [the music's elegant] ambience with grace as much as it performs without flaw. The members are all talented, and excellent at blending..."
Gramophone - December 2009
"The challenge in composing a wind quintet is to write for five instruments that do not automatically blend—unlike a string quintet. However, it can be done, as shown by these four fine composers and even more so by the warm, exquisitely balanced playing of The Borealis Wind Quintet. The sound quality is top notch. In a phrase, très charmante."
Phillip Scott, Fanfare - November / December 2009
"...the Borealis Quintet is again in top form...When it comes to French wind music of the late romantic period, one must walk the tightrope between a colorfully transparent texture and heartfelt sentiment, but Borealis accomplishes that with ease... Borealis boasts five accomplished professionals who think and play as one unit. They integrate their personalities into a natural and effortless soundscape, yet keep them just separate enough to engage in a sincere and energetic musical dialog. Their meticulous attention to rhythm, balance, intonation reflects a profound knowledge of each piece, and their willingness to push the envelope on tempo and dynamics points to shared artistic thoughts as well as a refreshing philosophy of risk-taking so rare in chamber ensembles, especially wind groups."
American Record Guide - November / December 2009
"...the Borealis perform well as a unit. It’s always a good sign when you can hear an ensemble breathe as one. The beginning of the Taffanel creates a dark, brooding character to the typical sonata-form movement. Despite a narrow range of dynamics there is clean articulation, great shifts in tone colour and a fabulous blend between the clarinet, horn and bassoon... The Borealis delivers the vast majority of the music with character, energy and great ensemble playing..."
Sabrina Pullen, MusicWeb International - October 2009

The end of the nineteenth century was an exciting era of musical development and innovation. Composers and performers were expanding their artistic boundaries to create new musical forms and more vivid expressions. It was a particularly significant turning point for woodwind players because the technical improvements to their instruments made it possible to perform with greater virtuosity and enhanced tone. Composers were freed from the former demands of nobleman’s patronage and restrictions of the church and began to write serious chamber music for wind ensembles, using each instrument as a fully integrated voice. The French were bold leaders in the transformation of wind playing, especially the Paris Conservatory, which encouraged new solo compositions and prizes for wind instruments. Organizations such as the Société de Musique de Chambre pour Instruments à Vent were formed to encourage this new repertoire and to showcase the virtuosity of the best players. The freshness and inspiration of this era still shines through the music, making it popular with audiences and a mainstay of our repertoire. The works on this disc encompass both the serious and the lighthearted styles of the French salon music and provide a satisfying combination of color, warmth and style.
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The Borealis Wind Quintet, nominated for a 2006 Grammy Award in the Chamber Music Category, is acclaimed as one of America’s preeminent chamber ensembles. The highest musical integrity, irresistible energy and five-fold charisma distinguish Borealis in the chamber music field. Audiences love their exquisite programming that includes the finest of the classics, engaging commissioned works, opera arias and works for piano and winds. The Washington Post praised their “sensitive collaborations that have a sophisticated and cosmopolitan air.” Peter G. Davies of the New York Times described one concert as “a polished, elegantly turned performance... each work received lively, expert and musicianly treatment by this skilled and exceptionally talented chamber group.” Joseph Horowitz, also of the New York Times describes “lively communicative readings...the performance was a scintillating one.” The Philadelphia Inquirer writes that “they demonstrated the sort of rapport that characterizes the very best chamber playing.”
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All of the selections on this recording are available in published form (score & parts) through Borealis Select Editions—a collaboration of The Borealis Wind Quintet and Cimarron Music Press.
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Claude-Paul Taffanel (1844-1908)
Adolphe Édouard Marie Deslandres (1840-1911)

André Georges Louis Onslow (1784-1853)

Charles Édouard Lefebvre (1843-1917)
SUITE, Op.57

MSR Classics


Short Works for Winds