Ludwig Thuille participated in “Ritter’s Round Table” with his friend Richard Strauss. For the young composer still in search of his musical self, the encounter with Liszt’s ardent admirer and Wagner’s friend Alexander Ritter, in whose home these gatherings were held, must have been a revelation. Thuille enthusiastically incorporated the harmonic expansions of the New Germans into his compositions. On this rerelease of a long sold-out recording from 1987, the Stuttgart Wind Quintet and the pianist Dennis Russell Davies perform sextets by Thuille and Francis Poulenc.
Thuille’s Sextet displays a form much obliged to the tradition, reminiscences of Brahms’s Piano Concerto No. 2 that are surely not coincidental, and an ensemble format extraordinary for its times: he develops a highly individual tonal style that not least is distinguished by absolutely “modern” harmonies. The coda in the last movement even hints at impressionistic colors, and the highly meticulous elaboration of the composition attests to the quality of its author’s classical education.
By contrast, Francis Poulenc is always associated with spontaneity, musical wit, and improvisation. And in fact Poulenc hardly pursued studies in the traditional sense of the term – which makes the architecture of his Sextet all the more impressive. The inclusion of elements from the first and second movements in the finale requires a command of the larger picture. It is not without reason that this work distinguished by quick wit and swiftness numbers among Poulenc’s most popular compositions.
This rerelease is a model example illustrating the principles for which MDG has stood for forty years. Outstanding artists perform magnificent music often situated off the mainstream. The careful selection of just the right performance space, a piano excellently prepared for the occasion, and choice microphones form the basis for a freely resonating, natural sound picture. The greatest possible precision, with finishing touches judged by the trained ears of sound engineers, means that many recordings continue to be audiophile benchmarks even today.