Pure “Joie de Vivre” through Carefree Wind Music

WCRB’s CD of the Week features a dream team of wind players bringing the joyful sound of the Symphonie Concertante to its most exuberant level.

For virtuoso performers in the late 1700s and early 1800s, Paris was the Big Apple, where fame was waiting in the wings. The concert "societies" were many, and programs for series like the Concerts Spirituels almost always offered symphonies concertantes at the close of the night. Here was where musical reflections on the trials of life and the torments of the soul were left way behind, along with minor keys and slow movements. These pieces were like a party in musical form, celebrating virtuosity and bubbling over with joie de vivre.

The symphonie concertante puts two or more players in the spotlight with orchestral backup. It grew from the baroque concerto grosso and blossomed when the symphony form was emerging, along with fabulous new orchestras and an incredible rise in the popularity of public concerts.

We can think of no better dream team to fill up the spotlight with joyful nuance and breathtaking chops than the five illustrious players of Les Vents Français. Formed originally by the brilliant clarinetist Paul Meyer, his colleagues are flutist Emmanuel Pahud; oboist François Leleux; bassoonist Gilbert Audin and hornist Radovan Vlatković. Alongside the Munich Chamber Orchestra, they fill this two-CD set with music from the two great musical centers of the classical period, Mannheim and Paris. Franz Danzi's irrepressible style is here, along with the brilliant flutist of the day François Devienne and composer/piano-manufacturer Ignaz Pleyel. The perfect work of the genre, Mozart's Sinfonia Concertante in E-flat, will take your breath away with the ravishing (and fun!) effects that these players include to bring it over the top.

Listen to a track from the album:

For more information and to purchase this recording, visit ArkivMusic.