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Every day we post 10 new Classical CD and DVD reviews. A free weekly summary is available by e-mail. MusicWeb is not a subscription site. To keep it free please purchase discs through our links.

  Classical Editor Rob Barnett    


Franz LACHNER (1803-1890)
Nonet in F (1875), Octet in B flat, op. 156 (pub. 1850)
Consortium Classicum/Dieter Klöcker
Recorded 1974
CPO 999 803-2 [65í20"]
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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?

Christopher Howell


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