What's your Favourite Wind Quintet?
On a concert-giving holiday near Aix-en-Provence a couple of us tracked down his house and found it was a sub-police-station on the ring road. We bounced into the front office and asked whether it would be possible to come and play his quintet in his house. The desk-sergeant, or whatever they are called in Provence, looked completely blank. Who was this 'Milhaud' and what were these two bizarre Englishwomen on about? I believe the building has since been demolished.
Each of the seven short movements of 'La Cheminée du Roi René is a little masterpiece, with its own character, style and unexpected but delicious harmonies. It starts with a solemn village procession, followed by a gentle summer Morning Serenade. The Jugglers come along next, larking about, followed by a rather poignant dance-like 'Maousinglade'. 'Joutes sur L'Arc' is a lively jousting contest on the river Arc, followed by an energetic hunting scene, where the piccolo adds some fizz to the activity.
My favourite movement of all is the final Madrigal - Nocturne. You can imagine that all the villagers have gone home, exhausted, and the countryside is bathed in moonlight. The ending is heart-stoppingly tender.