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Dennis Brain

Beethoven Quintet for Piano and Wind Instruments in E flat major, Op.16
Gordon Jacob Sextet for Wind Quintet and Piano, Op.3
Paul Hindemith Sonata for Horn and Piano
Gilbert Vinter (1909-1969) Hunter's Moon

Dennis Brain Wind Quintet
Gareth Morris, Flute; Leonard Brain, Oboe; Stephen Waters, Clarinet; Dennis Brain, Horn; Cecil James, Bassoon
George Malcolm, Piano [Jacob]
Benjamin Britten, Piano [Beethhoven]
Noel Mewton-Wood, Piano [Hindemith]
BBC Concert Orchestra/VilemTausky

BBC Legends BBCL 4164-2

This is a useful trip down memory lane for Dennis Brain enthusiasts and former 3rd Programme listeners. But the effect of these remastered separate broadcasts is uneven and few collectors will enjoy all the music equally.

The Beethoven quintet does not compare with Mozart's in the esteem of chamber music audiences, and Britten does nothing special for it. Hindemith's sonata is formulaic and to my ears unlovely; good to hear Mewton-Wood again, but nothing to suggest the sonata should return to the regular repertoire.

The successes are the Jacob sextet and a light solo with orchestra by Vinter, an a-b-a piece with attractive fast pillars first and last, but for my taste a too schmalzy middle section. It is better recorded in 1957 than were the Hindemith (1953) and Beethoven (1955), but finally it is only Gordon Jacob's frenchified sextet (with nods to Poulenc) which makes the CD worth considering. Composed in memory of Aubrey Brain as his Op 3, and premiered in 1956, Jacob can too easily be under-rated. His music always shows superb craftmanship and holds the attention with its understanding of the instruments and their combinations; there are not too many sextets and this is one to listen to again and ripe for re-entry into the regular wind/piano repertoire.

© Peter Grahame Woolf