Viktoria Mullova Violin
Schubert: Octet in F major, D803
ONYX CLASSICS – ONYX4006
A spacious performance, enthralling and poetic: it leaves behind the world of happy Viennese music-making. Instead, we have a view of the Octet as one of Schubert’s major achievments, sharing much common ground with the other great chamber works of 1824, the A minor and D minor string quartets.
The Adagio is taken unusually slowly, but without any feeling of the rhythm sagging – the effect is unexpectedly profound and meditative.
The following Scherzo is unhurried, too, yet is still full of spirit; it’s beautifully poised, with each phrase convincingly shaped. There’s only one movement, the Minuet, where the measured approach is maybe overdone; it’s marked Allegretto, after all, and here the effect is distinctly languid. However, the romantic feeling of the first movement’s introductory Adagio is perfectly captured, and the corresponding slow introduction to the finale, whose melodrama can sometimes sound like a tongue-in cheek shock tactic, emerges here as one extreme of a multifaceted yet perfectly unified work.
And the thoughtful shaping of phrases isn’t confined to the Scherzo; it’s present throughout, keeping us constantly aware of the music’s expressive power. Even when these inflections seem slightly contentious – in the finale’s main theme, for example – they contribute to a constant feeling of lively communication. —