Octet in F major
OSM Chamber Soloists
Analekta AN 2 8799 61:73 mins
The OSM Chamber Soloists, comprising lead players of the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal, have already recorded Beethoven’s Septet, Op. 20. So, it makes sense to move on to Schubert’s great Octet in F major, which he not only modelled closely on Beethoven’s then vastly popular opus but perhaps, secretly, hoped to surpass. Though written at great speed, the score is so inventively varied in its instrumental part-writing and detailed in its expressive markings that a responsive and sympathetic reading by proficient performers should be telling.
Such, certainly, is the impression of this latest recording, led by first violinist Andrew Wan, which unfolds with an unstrained naturalness in generally ample tempos – though with no lack of intensity in the introduction to the finale where the music briefly turns ominous. While dynamics and markings are scrupulously observed, there is a welcome absence of over-interpretation as found with some ensembles who have perhaps played the work too often. Equally, the approach contrasts with the more tensely controlled, if occasionally mannered period performance led by Isabelle Faust on Harmonia Mundi reviewed in these pages last August. This release will give much pleasure.