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
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
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.