"Variation5" is the title of the wind quintet’s eponymous debut album – and variation5 is an ensemble of five very different characters, musicians who as winners of first prize in the ARD Music Competition are united by one thing: rather than cling to traditional performance practice and repertoire, they create new and exciting programmes and present them in their own cheeky, youthful, laid-back manner. This first joint album of theirs gives the five musicians the chance to present modern 20th-century classics for wind ensemble. They push atonal preconceptions to one side: the works are catchy and offer auditory variety as well as a relaxed balance of sound such as has rarely if ever been heard before.
The five wind musicians – Magali Mosnier (flute), Ramon Ortega-Quero (oboe), Sebastian Manz (clarinet), David Fernandez Alonso (horn) and Marc Trenel (bassoon) are anything but your typical "classical-music nerds". The assumption that a wind quintet represents an exceptionally difficult combination is one they can confidently rebut: they are so well attuned to one another that their instruments fall into harmony with one another and sound, when played together, almost like an organ. That gives the ensemble a unique authority of its own.
For its debut album, the ensemble has assembled works that display the versatility and creative enthusiasm of their composers. The wind-quintet formation enjoyed a renaissance in the 20th century. Composers like Carl Nielsen, Jean Francaix and Paul Hindemith experimented with this scoring and showed great inventiveness in exploiting the various acoustic characteristics of the different wind instruments. So you can imagine it takes the highest technical and musical skills to achieve full expression of these works. These musicians are equal to the enormous challenge and their listeners can be sure of a sonic revelation.
There are two reasons for this: in the first place the works were specially arranged for and by the ensemble so as to be perfectly matched to each individual musician, and secondly, the Hans Rosbaud Studio in Baden-Baden, where the recordings
were made, is an ideal venue for wind players.