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Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Schubert: Octets / Melos Ensemble


Release Date: 05/02/2006 
Label:  Emi Classics   Catalog #: 50864   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Ludwig van BeethovenFelix MendelssohnFranz Schubert
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Melos Ensemble London
Number of Discs: 2 
Recorded in: Stereo 
In Stock: Usually ships in 24 hours.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews



BEETHOVEN Septet in E?, op. 20. Octet in E?, op. 103. MENDELSSOHN Octet in E?, op. 20. SCHUBERT Octet in F, D 803 ? Melos Ens of London ? EMI 50864 (2 CDs: 151:12)


With the wonderful Gervase de Peyer playing the often prominent clarinet Read more parts, and with equally tasteful players around him, the Melos Ensemble made recordings in the middle and late 1960s that were a constant delight. Some of those, including the Brahms Clarinet Quintet and the Beethoven and Mozart quintets for piano and winds, were reissued on a previous two-fer: EMI Classics 72643. This new collection is just as valuable and just as charming. It begins with the Beethoven Septet, which Lewis Lockwood described as ?a divertimento companion to the First Symphony intended for salon performance,? and as having the desire to please written all over it. Its long-limbed melody in the Adagio cantabile gives way to graceful dance movements and to a theme and variations movement. Everywhere we hear, probably deliberately, a Mozart-like grace and balance. The Octet is evidently an even earlier work, revised repeatedly by Beethoven, once to make his String Quintet, op. 4. It is an equally agreeable divertissement.


The Mendelssohn Octet is something else, a major composition that seems to me as great as anything Mendelssohn wrote, even though he produced this masterpiece at age 16. From the pregnant opening phrases, it has the lightness and grace we associate with much of the best Mendelssohn and some of the depth of the later works without any over-reaching. The Melos Ensemble plays the piece intensely: they make the opening bars virtually threatening, more so than does the 1986 recording by I Musici (Philips) that is another of my favorites, as is the Columbia recording by a group from the Marlboro Festival.


Schubert wrote his Octet at the urging of Beethoven?s friend Ferdinand Troyer, and in frank admiration of Beethoven?s Septet. It, too, is a divertimento, but one that is varied, sometimes melancholy, and even at times dark. The Melos recording is ravishing throughout. There are many other recordings, including one I particularly liked by the Gaudier Ensemble. Still, the Melos performance is virtually unequalled, and the whole collection is something every lover of chamber music will want to hear.


FANFARE: Michael Ullman
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Works on This Recording

1.
Septet in E flat major, Op. 20 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Melos Ensemble London
Period: Classical 
Written: 1800; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 1969 
Venue:  EMI Abbey Road Studio No. 1, London 
Length: 39 Minutes 23 Secs. 
2.
Octet for Strings in E flat major, Op. 20 by Felix Mendelssohn
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Melos Ensemble London
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1825; Germany 
Date of Recording: 01/1968 
Venue:  EMI Abbey Road Studio No. 1, London 
Length: 32 Minutes 57 Secs. 
3.
Octet for Winds in E flat major, Op. 103 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Melos Ensemble London
Period: Classical 
Written: ?1792-93; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 1969 
Venue:  EMI Abbey Road Studio No. 1, London 
Length: 22 Minutes 4 Secs. 
4.
Octet for Clarinet, Horn, Bassoon and Strings in F major, D 803/Op. 166 by Franz Schubert
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Melos Ensemble London
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1824; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 12/1967 
Venue:  EMI Abbey Road Studio No. 1, London 
Length: 56 Minutes 19 Secs. 

Sound Samples

Septet in E flat Op. 20 (1997 Digital Remaster): I. Adagio - Allegro con brio
Septet in E flat Op. 20 (1997 Digital Remaster): II. Adagio cantabile
Septet in E flat Op. 20 (1997 Digital Remaster): III. Tempo di Menuetto & Trio
Septet in E flat Op. 20 (1997 Digital Remaster): IV. Tema con Variaziono (Andante)
Septet in E flat Op. 20 (1997 Digital Remaster): V. Scherzo (Allegro molto e vivace) & Trio
Septet in E flat Op. 20 (1997 Digital Remaster): VI. Andante con molto alla Marcia - Presto
Octet in E flat Op. 20 (1997 Digital Remaster): I. Allegro moderato, ma con fuoco
Octet in E flat Op. 20 (1997 Digital Remaster): II. Andante
Octet in E flat Op. 20 (1997 Digital Remaster): III. Scherzo (Allegro leggierissimo)
Octet in E flat Op. 20 (1997 Digital Remaster): IV. Presto
Octet in E flat Op. 103 (1997 Digital Remaster): I. Allegro
Octet in E flat Op. 103 (1997 Digital Remaster): II. Andante
Octet in E flat Op. 103 (1997 Digital Remaster): III. Menuetto (Allegro)
Octet in E flat Op. 103 (1997 Digital Remaster): IV. Finale (Presto)
Octet in F D803 (1997 Digital Remaster): I. Adagio - Allegro
Octet in F D803 (1997 Digital Remaster): II. Adagio
Octet in F D803 (1997 Digital Remaster): III. Scherzo (Allegro vivace) & Trio
Octet in F D803 (1997 Digital Remaster): IV. Andante
Octet in F D803 (1997 Digital Remaster): V. Menuetto (Allegretto) & Trio
Octet in F D803 (1997 Digital Remaster): VI. Andante molto - Allegro

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