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Wind Quintet in G minor

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Allegro con moto – Andante – Vivace

Taffanel composed this work in 1876 as his entry in a competition for wind quintets organised by the Société des Compositeurs. The jury, which included Ambroise Thomas, Léo Delibes and Théodore Dubois among others, examined fourteen anonymous quintets. On 20 May 1877 it awarded the prize to Taffanel’s work. Dubois wrote to the winner shortly afterwards: ‘I was far from imagining it was yours when I read through it, but I’m not surprised.’ The work was very well received at its premiere at the Salle Pleyel on 3 May 1878, and garnered further applause after its second performance on 23 May, at the concert of the Société des Compositeurs honouring the victor. Taffanel dedicated it to Henri Reber, his former harmony teacher at the Paris Conservatoire. This quintet in three concise movements balances the instruments perfectly and appeals to the listener with its elegant melody, while not neglecting rhythmic alacrity. The first movement, in sonata form like the finale, is notable for the diversity of its timbral combinations. In the Andante, the horn states the principal melody, punctuated by chords from the other instruments, before oboe, flute and clarinet take it up in their turn. A more tormented passage in the central section is the darkest episode in the entire quintet. The Vivace hurtles along to a tarantella rhythm, demanding great virtuosity from the five performers. Perhaps no more than coincidentally, one hears echoes of Mendelssohn, notably of the Saltarello from the Symphony no.4, the ‘Italian’, while the final pirouette resembles some prank of the goblin Puck.


publication date : 25/09/23

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