Reviews and occasional notes on classical music

Reviews and occasional notes on classical music

For the past five years or so I've posted reviews of classical music CDs, DVDs and Blu-rays, in various places on the web: Amazon.com, iTunes and other sites. I'll collect those earlier reviews, and add four or five new ones every month.

"Music, both vocall and instrumental, so good, so delectable, so rare, so admirable, so super excellent, that it did even ravish and stupifie all those strangers that never heard the like." - Thomas Coryat, after hearing 3 hours of music at the Scuola di San Rocco in Venice, 1608.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Sociable music with charm and character

From August 22, 2011:


I know Mathieu Lussier as a bassoonist, especially in Latin American and Baroque repertoire, but he's also an accomplished composer. This new CD from ATMA Classique shows this accomplishment, and also highlights his range and broad appeal.

All of these works feature music for wind instruments, and are presented by Pentaedre, the wide-ranging and progressive wind chamber group based in Montreal. Lussier's music is accessible and colourful, often marked by playfulness and sentiment. It shows the influence of French composers of the 20th century such as Milhaud, Francaix, & Poulenc, and of Latin American composers like Piazzolla and Villa-Lobos. Most important, though, is the general "folkloric" feel of the music. There is something timeless about the often simple melodies from which Lussier builds these well-constructed pieces. This music is crafted for use in the manner of the sociable Baroque musician rather than the Romantic artist writing for posterity in his lonely attic. Lussier knows these instruments well - flute, clarinet, oboe d'amour, horn, and saxophone, as well as bassoon. The performers (from Pentaedre, as well as guest artists) play with character, charm and virtuosity. He also writes interesting music for the pianist to play. These are not always merely accompaniments, and Louise Lessard plays her parts with musicality, wit and grace.

The final work on the CD is a major chamber work for wind quintet and contrabassoon. The Sextuor, op. 19, is evocative music, courtly, grave, phantastical and wistful. This piece deserves to be taken up by wind ensembles around the world.

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