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Classical Music Review
Navona Records release Phoenix Ensemble: Chamber Music of Henri Marteau & Alexander Zemlinsky. The Phoenix Ensemble is a mixed instrument chamber music ensemble. Founded in 1991 by New York-based clarinetist Mark Lieb, on this recording they present two works by late romantic French composer Henri Marteau, who is relatively unknown in the music world, as well as presenting one work by Austrian composer Alexander Zemlinsky...
The album’s three suites are presented in reverse chronological order, starting with the first ever recording of Henri Marteau’s 'Serenede, Op 20'. Here the Phoenix Ensemble makes a lesser-known body of work sound like an old classic, whilst educating modern listeners about a composer who has been largely unnoticed in his own era and forgotten by the passage of time.
The second composer featured here is Alexander Zemlinsky, presenting 'Trio Op 3', which Zemlinsky wrote in 1896 at the tender age of 25.
The album contains 1 hr, 14 min, 15 sec of incredibly beautiful compositions. For my money, the highlight has to be 'Serenade, Op. 20 - II. Adagietto'. This is easily the most beautiful and subtle track, with an ending that will lift your spirits and send shivers down your spine.
While listening to 'Quintet for Clarinet and String Quartet, Op. 13 - III. Andante sostenuto' I was reminded of Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet (1935), and I couldn't help wonder if the Russian composer had taken inspiration from Marteau's work.
The most familiar track to most here will be 'Trio in D Minor, Op. 3 - I. Allegro ma non troppo'.
It's an incredible album, which is beautifully presented. If for nothing else, I'm grateful for the chance to hear Marteau's work - a composer I would probably have never had the opportunity to hear.