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The Soni Ventorum Wind Quintet and their “Lyrichord Years”

Last updated Tuesday, September 10, 2013 13:48 ET

Three classic reissues from a legendary wind ensemble, christened 52 years ago by Pablo Casals, prove that great recordings are eternal.

New York, USA, 09/10/2013 / SubmitMyPR /

Coming fresh on the heels of three digital albums and a 3-cd box set of reissued albums of the renowned American oboist Humbert Lucarelli, Lyrichord is proud to release the remastered early landmark recordings of Soni Ventorum Wind Quintet, a group of virtuosos, who, at the behest of Pablo Casals, formed a wind ensemble of unmatched musicality – and inspired the enduring music of many fine composers.

Lyrichord is proud to digitally reissue these three classic Soni Ventorum albums:

· Volume One: Music for the Musical Clock - Beethoven - Haydn - Mozart,

· Volume Two: Anton Reicha’s Quintet Op. 100 No. 4 in E minor and Franz Danzi’s Quintetto No. 3, Op. 51 in F Major,

· Volume Three: All Twentieth Century Music, including original works by Joseph Goodman – Walter Piston – Ernst Krenek – Heitor Villa-Lobos.

Together with Humbert Lucarelli: The Lyrichord Years, these three recordings form the latest in the Lyrichord Years artist series, a project by the 63-year-old imprint launched to ensure that the great music in its vaults will continue to flourish long into the future.

The Soni Ventorum is an ensemble whose story and origins are nearly as compelling as their recordings and performances are exceptional.

Throughout its decades-long career the legendary Soni Ventorum Wind Quintet was a group comprised of singularly gifted wind players. Though officially launched in 1961, the group’s actual origins go back as far 1949, when a young flautist named Felix Skowronek and horn player Robert Bonnevie organized their first wind quintet in high school. Skowronek named it Soni Ventorum from the Latin phrase 'sounds of the winds'.

Bonnevie and Skowroneck went on to acceptance at the prestigious Curtis Institute in Philadelphia, which was also the alma mater of other future Soni Ventorum members, James Caldwell, Arthur Grossman, Laila Storch (Storch had the distinction of being the first woman oboist to graduate from Curtis). But it was due to the somewhat unusual circumstance of Grossman and Skowronek reuniting musically while both serving in the 7th Army Symphony, that would form the core basis of the ensemble. While stationed in Germany, the two formed a Wind Quintet and toured Germany under a program of cultural ambassadorship..

With the army behind them and university or conservatory careers beckoning, William McColl landed a teaching job at the Pablo Casals’ newly founded Conservatory of Music in Puerto Rico, and soon informed his former colleagues about the great teaching and performing opportunities there in Puerto Rico. In short order, Bonnevie, Caldwell, Grossman, and Skowronek also obtained teaching positions at the Conservatory and Casals asked the players to become the conservatory’s resident woodwind faculty, and thus the Soni Ventorum Wind Quintet was officially formed. Recording began in 1963 and continued with great success throughout the group's long career, which spanned over four decades.

Originally released in 1964, “The Musical Clock” is Soni Ventorum’s first Lyrichord recording, and features arrangements for wind quintet by flautist Felix Skowronek (Beethoven and Haydn) - and now includes bonus tracks (Mozart), arranged by Wolfgang Sebastian Meyer- of works originally composed for mechanical barrel-organ by Beethoven, Haydn and Mozart. Soni Ventorum’s consummate artistry – both as individuals and as ensemble players – is clearly evident from the first note of this remarkable collection.

The second classic Lyrichord/Soni Ventorum reissue is an album of two quintets one by Anton Reicha (1770 – 1836): his Quintet, Op. 100 No. 4 in E minor, and another by Franz Danzi (1763 - 1826): his Quintetto No. 3, Op. 51 in F Major. Reicha and Danzi are widely considered to be the founding fathers of the wind quintet form. Their highest aspirations for the new compositional and ensemble form are clearly realized in the this stunning performance from 1969.

One of the most interesting, challenging, and significant of the the Lyrichord Years recordings of The Soni Ventorum Wind Quintet, is the third volume, which explores exciting works for wind quintet by four diverse 20th Century composers: Americans Joseph Goodman (Quintet for Wind Instruments 1954), and Walter Piston (Three Pieces for Flute, Clarinet, and Bassoon - 1925), Austrian born Ernst Krenek (Pentagram for Winds - 1957) and a bonus track of Brazil’s Heitor Villa-Lobos (Quintette en forme de Choros 1928). The group performed the premiere of the Goodman piece - a work that had been written some time earlier, but was actually considered virtually unplayable until The Soni Ventorum premiered it. In its original release, this recording of the Piston/Krenek/Goodman works, was named one of the Year's Best Recordings in Saturday Review, (November, 1966)

In reflecting on the career of the group that he co-founded, and on the digital reissues of these Lyrichord albums, founding member William McColl recently wrote:

“These were our first commercial recordings as a quintet. Our origins and personalities were very diverse yet our tastes coincided. Our ruling inspiration was the phrasing style of Casals: Play frankly, he would say. To please him one struggled to communicate nuances, even in the most frantic presto. A contrasting (but not contradictory) influence in those Puerto Rico years was Juan José Castro, the great Argentinean conductor, who could take an adagio very slowly indeed and still maintain the line and flow of the phrase. He could fall off the bottom of the metronome, Leuba once said, and land on his feet. But above all, these re-releases now provide an opportunity to hear once again the important, now-silenced voices of Bonnevie, Caldwell and Skowronek.

His other surviving Soni Ventorum colleague from these early recordings, Arthur Grossman wrote:

When Soni Ventorum began functioning under that name, in Puerto Rico, we felt somewhat isolated from the mainstream of musical activity. It was an ideal place to work as a group and to solidify our style, and to be able to prepare assiduously for any performance. However, it was only as we began to record and the recordings began to be reviewed and noticed, especially in the New York press, that we felt that our isolation was minimized and that we were indeed part of the mainstream of chamber music.

All three albums, (digitally remastered by Lyrichord’s Nick Fritsch) are available for mp3 download on all major online digital music services. Now the great artistry of the Soni Ventorum Wind Quintet lives again on Lyrichord, to entrance and engage serious lovers of chamber music listeners in a new century.

Available from Lyrichord Downloads, Itunes, Amazon, Classics Online, and other digital retailers.

To learn more about Soni Ventorum's remarkable history, go to The Soni Ventorum Wind Quintet Homepage