Franz Lachner would seem by all accounts to have been
a nice, friendly person; he certainly wrote some nice, friendly music.
Since it gets nice, friendly performances (not 100% in terms of ensemble
but good enough) from nice Mr. Klöcker (to judge from the benign
photograph) and his friends, it only remains for me to try to be nice
for once myself and recommend it to all nice, friendly listeners.
Now letís be fair; if Lachner tends to amble his cultivated
way along the pastures of post-Schubertian romanticism, there are two
moments in the Octet Ė the clarinet-led trio to the second movement
and a theme in the Adagio, also clarinet-led Ė where the melodic writing
attains something like inspiration, and also brings the best out of
Klöcker. And, if I didnít notice any such moments in the Octet,
I found it more resourceful on the whole. The themes are clear-cut and
donít sound as if Lachner lost much sleep inventing them, but what he
does with them holds the attention, and there is a perky little Scherzo
which suggests that, as well as being nice and friendly, Lachner might
have been fun too.
The players sound as if they enjoyed that. As I suggested,
they are not immaculate but they seem genuinely appreciative of Lachner.
As the 1974 recording still sounds well I venture to suggest there is
little point in other groups recording these pieces again. As long as
you donít expect too much, you should get pleasure from the disc.
Klöckerís helpful notes tell how Lachner, many
years before he wrote the works on this CD, was a close companion of
Schubert. "We two, Schubert and I, spent most of our time together
sketching new songs Ö how quickly the hours seemed to pass, days, months
Ö of the merriest rapport and ungrudging endeavours, exchanging thoughts
and ideas Ė a wonderful experience for us both Ö We were the closest
of friends, mornings performing for each other and discussing in depth
every imaginable topic, with greatest candour".
I donít know any of these songs, but it does sound
as though the divine spark in Lachner, if he ever had one, must have
belonged to that period. Might we get a disc of Lachner lieder from
someone? And, just a thought, if a pretty ghastly one; supposing Schubert
had also lived to the age of 87, might he have settled, around the age
of 50, into a rut of well-cultured professionalism like Lachnerís?