One of the most grown-up review sites around

54,928 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here



International mailing

Founder: Len Mullenger                                    Editor in Chief:John Quinn             


AmazonUK £14.99  AmazonUS $14.38

Chamber Music in Sanssouci
Antonín DVOŘÁK (1841-1904)

Serenade in D minor, Op. 44 (1878) [26'37].
Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)

Octet in E flat, Op. 103 (1792/3) [21'42].
Members of the Berliner Philharmoniker (Philharmonische Bläser).
Rec. Jaspissaal, Sanssouci, Potsdam in 2990.
PCM Stereo. 4:3. Region 0 Worldwide.
ARTHAUS 100 725 [58'00]


Despite the low playing time - so search around for the lowest price! - there is much to delight here. The Dvořák is almost certainly the better-known of the two works. It is to be hoped that this issue will bring Beethoven's marvellous Octet to wider circulation. It is a wonderful piece, easeful of invention but clearly the work of a Master.

Recorded in the Sanssouci Palace in Potsdam, the setting for the concert is luxurious and decadent. The chosen room in what was the Summer Palace of Frederick the Great, absolutely gorgeous though it is, is also rather over-reverberant, something that comes across particularly in the more heavily scored portions of the Dvořák, the larger of the two works.

The playing of the members of the Berlin Philharmonic is exemplary. Their chosen layout is hair-pin like, with the two strings (cello and double-bass) at the point, and the wind players 'fanning out' in two lines from them. That slight blurring of textures I mentioned is most audible in the second movement. It does not help in the slow movement which is taken slower than implied by the 'Andante con moto' marking.

The Beethoven work's opus number belies its early date. It has all the hallmarks of Beethoven the young man in unbuttoned chamber mode. There is about this music a civility that is sometimes underpinned by hints of things weightier.

On the performance side, there is a real feeling of the Berliners 'coming home' when the Beethoven is reached. Blending is superb in this their natural territory, and there is real care in the Andante and a tangible sense of intimacy. The darker side of the innocently named 'Menuetto' is marvellously brought through, putting the high jinks of the finale into relief; and what horn playing!

The picture quality is not of the absolute highest. There is a suggestion of 'jerkiness' sometimes. But do try to hear and see this DVD. There is much to enjoy.

Colin Clarke


Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical
All Naxos reviews

All Chandos reviews

All Hyperion reviews

All Foghorn reviews

All Troubadisc reviews

Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10
All Divine Art reviews

All Eloquence reviews

All Lyrita Reviews


Obtain 10% discount

Recordings of the Month


Donizetti - Le Convenienze ed Inconvenienze Teatrali

Chamber Symphonies 2 & 4

French Cello Concertos





Return to Index

Untitled Document

Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.