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By Edicson Ruiz, Elisabeth Kufferath, Jean Johnson, Juliette Bausor, Kristian Katzenberger, Maya Meron, Sharon Kam, Steven Hudson, and Theo Plath. By Carl August Nielsen (1865-1931) and Sergei Prokofiev (1891-1953). Classical. CD. Naxos #AVI 8553385. Published by Naxos (NX.AVI-8553385).
Item Number: NX.AVI-8553385
Nielsen's music set itself apart from the prevailing bathos of Late Romanticism thanks to its linear melodies and overall transparency. In his compositional style he displayed skillfull mastery of counterpoint and modern rhythm while incorporating elements of Gregorian chant and of folk music. Accused at times of detached coolness, the composer once justified his approach with the following words: ''Why do we have to go on proving ad nauseam that a beautifully sounding third is to be regarded as a gift of God, a fourth as a true experience, and a fifth as the utmost joy?'' Written in 1921/22, Nielsen's Wind Quintet, Op. 43 helps us partake in that very experience. Thinned down to the pure essentials, the scoring highlights the five instruments' individual timbres, ''At times they speak of one accord, then they irrupt into apparent disorder, then each one speaks for itself'', Nielsen explained. Certain instrumental combinations already sound almost exotic in the first movement.'' We likewise enter the circus ring with Sergey Prokofiev's Quintet, Op. 39 for the unusual combination of oboe, clarinet, violin, viola and double bass. Prokofiev wrote this work in 1924 under the title ''Trapeze'' as a ballet for choreographer Boris Romanov and his itinerant dance troupe: music depicting ''scenes from the circus life''. With its scoring reduced to the bare essentials, the work was designed to be readily performable in all sorts of circumstances and locations. Prokofiev, nevertheless, ended up composing a technically ambitious work, sporting a quirky character and ''several rhythmic difficulties'', as he readily admitted himself.''.