Review By Stephen Francis Vasta,MusicWeb International,May 2009
The music is pleasing, in an early-Romantic way, though the dates expose that style as shockingly retrograde—post-Mendelssohn at a time when others were practically post-tonal. To call the composer a superior craftsman evokes comparison with Saint-Saëns, who was unquestionably a better tunesmith. Reinecke’s appealing themes don’t linger similarly in the mind, but the overall mood, the "sense" of the sound, does, which is perhaps more important.
Review By Ronald E. Grames,Fanfare,January 2009
Carl Reinecke (1824–1910), virtuoso pianist and string-player, prolific composer, revered teacher, and for many years music director of the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, is today remembered, if at all, as a composer of works for winds and of cadenzas for other composers’ concertos. At one time the assumed inheritor of the mantles of Schumann and Mendelssohn, Reinecke instead fell under the shadow of the looming genius of Johannes Brahms. Fenwick Smith’s notes suggest that he began writing chamber works for winds because it was a genre that Brahms had not dominated. Fair enough; it worked.
Review By Hanudel,American Record Guide,December 2008
Carl Reinecke is not a completely forgotten figure; in late 19th Century Germany he enjoyed a long and respected career as a conductor, composer, and teacher, and he became a stalwart of the conservative German romantic style. He wrote in almost every genre, including symphony and opera; but in the shadow of Brahms, his works never achieved a strong foothold in the repertoire. Reinecke’s experience on the podium, however—he led the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra for 35 years—gave him a profound knowledge of orchestral instruments, and he poured a good deal of his creativity and spare time into wind music. In a time where the ideal forces for chamber music were strings and piano, Reinecke’s wind works loom large; and fortunately for wind players and
This is a re-release of a 1993 Etcetera recording made by members of the Boston Symphony. The program consists of Reinecke’s Octet for flute, oboe, two clarinets, two bassoons, and two horns; his Sextet for flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, and two horns; and an arrangement of his solo piano work From the Cradle to the Grave for flute and piano. Reinecke’s orchestration of the octet and sextet, adding more bottom than top, goes a long way toward giving both works a “symphonic” feel; and while his melodies are not the most original, his manipulation of harmony, rhythm, and thematic material make for very rewarding listening. In the early 1890s, the prominent flutist Ernesto Kohler selected eight of the 16 piano miniatures of From the Cradle to the Grave; the tunes here are more memorable, and the intimate qualities of the music lend themselves well to Kohler’s arrangements.
As one might expect by the personnel involved, the octet and sextet are superbly played, with professional polish and musicianship. They allow Reinecke’s music to sparkle and breathe with the idiosyncratic timbres that naturally occur when several different colors and timbres congregate at once. Their performance is a reminder of how far chamber music has evolved from the dinner halls of the 18th Century courts, and how the increasing prominence of wind instruments transformed the Western orchestra in the 20th Century. Fenwick Smith and Hugh Hinton give a convincing rendition of From the Cradle to the Grave, and if you know Reinecke’s famous Undine Flute Sonata you will also enjoy this work.