Gade: Sextet in E flat, Op. 44; Octet in F, Op. 17

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

LABELS: Dabringhaus und Grimm Gold
WORKS: Sextet in E flat, Op. 44; Octet in F, Op. 17
PERFORMER: Berlin Philharmonic String Octet
CATALOGUE NO: MDG 308 1102-2
The Octet was begun soon after the death of Mendelssohn, whom the young Gade succeeded at the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra. It was finished in Copenhagen as the outbreak of the 1848 Prusso-Danish war forced him to leave Germany, though the turbulence of the times does not disturb the sunny nature of the piece. Nor does it cloud the Sextet which comes from 1863, the period of the Seventh Symphony and the Op. 42 Piano Trio, when war clouds were gathering for the 1864 conflict between the two countries. As always with this genial, urbane Danish master the craftsmanship is impeccable, the musical architecture finely structured and the musical ideas and the atmosphere cultured if heavily Mendelssohnian. Both pieces are smiling and full of grace – mellifluous is, I suppose, the word that best sums them up, even if neither ever approaches Mendelssohn in quality of inspiration or distinction of mind. The playing of the Berlin ensemble is thoroughly dedicated and enthusiastic, and though the recording places us fairly far forward in the recital room, there is plenty of air round the sound. Both are available in alternative recordings but the Berliners can more than hold their own against the competition. Robert Layton