MusicWeb International reviews more Classical recordings than any one else.

53,555 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here



International mailing

  Founder: Len Mullenger             Editor in Chief: John Quinn               Contact Seen and Heard here  

Some items
to consider

£11 post-free anywhere
Normal service resumed


100th birthday of Mieczyslaw Weinberg on December 8, 2019.
Renate Eggbrecht has recorded all 3 violin Sonatas


Recordings of the Month


Beethoven String Quartets

Produzioni Armoniche

Seven Symphonic Poems

Shostakovich VC1 Baiba Skride
Tchaikovsky Symph 5 Nelsons

Vivaldi Violin Concertos



Beethoven Piano Concertos

Stradal Transcriptions

LOSY Note d’oro

Scarlatti Sonatas Vol 2

Support us financially by purchasing this from

Felix MENDELSSOHN (1809-1847)
Octet in E flat major, Op.20 [30.45]
George ENESCU (1881-1955)
Octet for Strings in C major, Op.7 [38.08]
Gringolts Quartet
Meta 4
rec. 2018, Sellosali, Espoo, Finland
BIS BIS-2447 SACD [69.43]

The Mendelssohn Octet is an astonishing work, and one of which I have never tired, both in the precocity of its sixteen-year-old composer, but also because of its level of invention and originality. It has something of the symphonic while never losing its connection with chamber music. I first encountered it by way of the now venerable (but so fresh) Argo recording by the Academy of St Martin-in-the-Fields, half a century ago; and until this one, no other recording (including the later Philips one with the Academy) has displaced the original in my affections. I treasure still the memory of a wonderful live performance by the combined Heath and Elias Quartets, alas a combination never recorded. That live performance, by two young quartets, captured the youthful energy and vibrancy of the work.

So too here. The combination of two young but astonishingly confident and authoritative quartets brings out the sensitive interplay between players, so that inner details emerge very clearly. There are subtleties, too: listen for example, to the way the opening moments of the first movement so gently creep in. It is a matter of seconds only, like the gentlest tap on the door, and then we are away. Repeats are observed, notably in the first movement. There is a zest to the playing throughout, but at no loss to more reflective passages. In this recording, we have also the benefit of superb recording quality. SACD, here splendidly realised, enables inner details to emerge perfectly.

The Enescu Octet, for identical forces is very much less well-known, but has many felicities. Its style – a single symphonic movement – nevertheless contains something very close to the traditional four movements, with a rather furious fugato as the second movement and a nocturne-like third movement, to climax in a rhythmical, waltz-like fourth section, drawing on earlier material. In 1900, it seemed hideously modern to the original performers (the second section, in particular, must have seemed quite primitively savage) and it was not publicly performed until 1909. But, in truth, the piece has a depth which make it worth a great deal more than cursory exploration. The Mendelssohn Octet has no traditional coupling, and different recordings are differently accompanied. There is a recording with the current coupling from 2009, drawn from live performances from the Spannungen Festival (AVI AVI8553163), with an extraordinary group of soloists, including Christian Tetzlaff, Isabelle Faust, Lisa Batiashvili and Antoine Tamestit. I have not heard this recording: published timings suggest that the Enescu is played a little more expansively than here. Unfamiliarity with the Enescu should be no discouragement to anyone, however, and this new recording will give tremendous satisfaction.

Michael Wilkinson

Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical

Nimbus Podcast

Obtain 10% discount

Special offer 50% off
15CDs £83 incl. postage

Musicweb sells the following labels

Altus 10% off
Atoll 10% off
CRD 10% off
Hallé 10% off
Lyrita 10% off
Nimbus 10% off
Nimbus Alliance
Prima voce 10% off
Red Priest 10% off
Retrospective 10% off
Saydisc 10% off
Sterling 10% off

Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger