Notes and Editorial Reviews
MDG 3010768 (63:41)
This is a reissue of Consortium Classicum’s highly praised 1996 recording of Schubert’s Octet, originally issued by MDG the following year. Despite fine modern recordings such as those by Fibonacci Sequence (Deux-elles), Aston Magna (Harmonia Mundi), or the Berlin Soloists with the Brandeis String Quartet (Apex), and such time-honored competitors as the Melos Ensemble (EMI), Vienna Octet (Decca), or the Boston
Symphony Chamber Players (Nonesuch), this one still holds up remarkably well. For that we must thank the Consortium’s founder and clarinetist, Dieter Klöcker, who sadly passed away in 2011 at the age of 75. He was one of those rare German musicians who always approached his work with both enthusiasm and humor; it is he we must thank for giving us the Mozart clarinet quintets that first appeared in such disarray in editions by Kunzelmann and then Musica Rara, and he also created instrumental arrangements of operatic music by Antonio Salieri, which surprised and delighted listeners and critics.
With the exception of the second-movement
, which they seem to take at just a bit too slow a pace—leading to listener fatigue—I can’t praise this performance highly enough. For one thing, they play it correctly, i.e., with great strength in the five strings, which gives one the impression of this being a small symphony rather than a work for a “chamber group,” and they also take all repeats. (Hmmm, maybe that’s another reason why the second movement seems to go on forever.) As much as I enjoyed Fibonacci Sequence’s recording of this work, I have to say that Consortium Classicum’s performance sounds much more “Schubertian” just as the Lindsay String Quartet’s recording of the even greater String Quintet in C is more Schubertian than the versions of its rivals. One of many examples: Listen to the suspense they create in the last movement’s shift from
. It is both subtle and exciting in its own quiet way, and a perfect demonstration of the immaculate attention that Consortium Classicum brought to their performances.
In short, if you already have any of the recordings of this work mentioned in the first paragraph, you may not need this one, but if you don’t it is a warm and wonderful performance that will grow on you with each hearing.
FANFARE: Lynn René Bayley
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