Sextet in E minor, Op.33
Octet in G, Op.73
Ensemble Acht with Oliver Triendl (piano)
Recorded in 2005
Reviewed by: Colin Anderson
Reviewed: November 2007
CD No: CPO 777 049-2
Duration: 77 minutes
CPO’s continuation with the music of Felix Weingartner (1863-1942, who is of course best-known as a conductor, his abilities kept alive by numerous recordings) now turns to his chamber music; Weingartner’s four symphonies have already been documented.
The Sextet, for piano, two violins, viola, cello and double bass, is from 1906, and is cast on a large scale and lasts here 41 minutes. The impetuosity of the opening movement (Allegro appassionato) is impressive and attention-grabbing; and well sustained over the 10-minute course, although the contrastingly lyrical material seems a little too indebted to Mendelssohn’s Octet. A jaunty Allegretto follows, sprightly and endearing, and the ensuing Adagio is contemplative and open-hearted, sweetly reflective. The last and longest movement (at 14 minutes) is headed ‘Danza funebre’, the most personal and searching, quite dark (as the movement’s heading might suggest) and sinewy and strongly reminiscent of Brahms.
The Octet – for string quartet, clarinet, horn, bassoon and piano – is from 1925 but is resolutely in the previous century. This airy and often-delightful work benefits from the use of wind instruments for music that is Classical, well-crafted and written to be enjoyed, whether in the wafted euphony of the first movement, the Mozartean serenading of the second movement Andante, the courtly countenance of the ‘Tempo di Menuetto’ or the more-robust, march-like Allegro moderato finale (once again the longest movement) that is both perky and upbeat before dissolving to a more meditative interlude, a floated horn solo prominent.
Performances and recording are both excellent. Recommended with and for pleasure!