Friday, April 28, 2017

Franz Schubert - Octet (Mullova Ensemble)


Composer: Franz Schubert
  1. Octet for clarinet, bassoon, horn & strings in F major, D. 803: I. Adagio - Allegro
  2. Octet for clarinet, bassoon, horn & strings in F major, D. 803: II. Adagio
  3. Octet for clarinet, bassoon, horn & strings in F major, D. 803: III. Allegro vivace - Trio
  4. Octet for clarinet, bassoon, horn & strings in F major, D. 803: IV. Andante con variazioni
  5. Octet for clarinet, bassoon, horn & strings in F major, D. 803: V. Menuetto. Allegretto - Trio
  6. Octet for clarinet, bassoon, horn & strings in F major, D. 803: VI. Andante molto - Allegro

Mullova Ensemble
Viktoria Mullova, violin I
Adrian Chamorro, violin II
Erich Krüger, viola
Manuel Fischer-Dieskau, cello
Klaus Stoll, double bass
Pascal Moraguès, clarinet 
Marco Postinghel, bassoon
Guido Corti, horn

Date: 2005
Label: Onyx



A thoughtful, expressive performance of Schubert’s multi-faceted Octet

A spacious performance, enthralling and poetic: it leaves behind the world of happy Viennese music-making (best exemplified on disc, perhaps, by the famous 1957 Vienna Octet recording). Instead, we have a view of the Octet as one of Schubert’s major achievments, sharing much common ground with the other great chamber works of 1824, the A minor and D minor string quartets.

The Adagio is taken unusually slowly, but without any feeling of the rhythm sagging – the effect is unexpectedly profound and meditative. The following Scherzo is unhurried, too, yet is still full of spirit; it’s beautifully poised, with each phrase convincingly shaped. There’s only one movement, the Minuet, where the measured approach is maybe overdone; it’s marked Allegretto, after all, and here the effect is distinctly languid. However, the romantic feeling of the first movement’s introductory Adagio is perfectly captured, and the corresponding slow introduction to the finale, whose melodrama can sometimes sound like a tongue-in cheek shock tactic, emerges here as one extreme of a multi-faceted yet perfectly unified work.

And the thoughtful shaping of phrases isn’t confined to the Scherzo; it’s present throughout, keeping us constantly aware of the music’s expressive power. Even when these inflections seem slightly contentious – in the finale’s main theme, for example – they contribute to a constant feeling of lively communication.

The solo portrait of Viktoria Mullova on the CD cover gives a very misleading impression; the Mullova Ensemble is in fact particularly strong as a team, and it’s notable how she and Pascal Moraguès realise a sense of joint leadership.

-- Duncan DruceGramophone

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Franz Schubert (31 January 1797 – 19 November 1828) was an Austrian composer who was extremely prolific during his short lifetime. His output consists of over six hundred secular vocal works (mainly Lieder), seven complete symphonies, sacred music, operas, incidental music and a large body of chamber and piano music. Today, Schubert is ranked among the greatest composers of the late Classical era and early Romantic era and is one of the most frequently performed composers of the early nineteenth century. His music is characterized by pleasing tunes while still has "a great wealth of technical finesse".


With a group of like-minded musicians, Viktoria Mullova formed her chamber group The Mullova Ensemble in 1994, with an inaugural tour of Italy. The Ensemble has since toured Germany, Spain, Belgium, the UK and the Netherlands, exhibiting a blend of scholarship and virtuosity appreciated by audience and critics alike. Their first two CDs are of Bach Violin Concertos and the Schubert Octet on ONYX (voted Editor's Choice in Gramophone), both demonstrating their ability to breathe life into music new and old.


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