Schubert Octet in F, D803

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slofstra
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Schubert Octet in F, D803

Post by slofstra » Sun Jun 21, 2020 12:07 pm

It's great to discover repertoire that you haven't encountered before, as was the case with this Octet which members of the Berlin Philharmonic performed very recently. Octets might be overlooked because, well, there aren't that many permanent octets around.
In any case, the D803 is a tour-de-force, lasting about an hour, running through six movements and keeping all eight performers very involved. A feast and delight for the ears. The BPO performance was also a stellar one, and I've added this to my list of favourite BPO performances.
Am I correct in thinking that this piece was early in laying quite a lot of weight on the clarinet? There is Mozart's work in this category, but in this piece the clarinet seems a bit more bluesy and melodramatic, on the way to the heights it reaches in Brahms' op. 115.
The climax is also great. Just when I thought there might be a bit too much in terms of clever variations and mood music, the last movement kicks ass in bringing the piece to a thrilling conclusion.
I like what the BPO is doing with this COVID-19 hiatus. Individual musicians are getting a chance to show off their chops in different corners of the repertoire, and at best, the results are exciting, and never worse than interesting.

barney
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Re: Schubert Octet in F, D803

Post by barney » Sun Jun 21, 2020 1:41 pm

It's a wonderful work, mature Schubert. I've noted before that from when I was 4 my grandmother used to play me Schubert (my constant request was Symphony 5), so when I really discovered classical music in my late teens Schubert was an early priority, as he has remained since. So I've loved this work for more than four decades.
Another famous and really fine octet, in the unlikely event that you don't already know, is the Mendelssohn. But Schubert is better. :D

maestrob
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Re: Schubert Octet in F, D803

Post by maestrob » Sun Jun 21, 2020 2:25 pm

Hello, Henry.

Schubert was a wonderful master of melody, and I agree that the Octet, which I came to late in life as well, needs first-rate players to make it work. Not just the clarinet, but there are moments for horn that can be ruined by poor intonation. I didn't discover this masterpiece until my middle thirties, when I went on a chamber-music binge, and immediately fell in love with this recording:

Image

Inspired by your post, I also found this on amazon by the Melos Ensemble and am listening to it at the moment. I may add it to my collection:

Image

I also have a version with Oistrakh, but I don't recommend it as the French horn sounds rather flat here and there.

slofstra
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Re: Schubert Octet in F, D803

Post by slofstra » Sun Jun 21, 2020 8:42 pm

barney wrote:
Sun Jun 21, 2020 1:41 pm
It's a wonderful work, mature Schubert. I've noted before that from when I was 4 my grandmother used to play me Schubert (my constant request was Symphony 5), so when I really discovered classical music in my late teens Schubert was an early priority, as he has remained since. So I've loved this work for more than four decades.
Another famous and really fine octet, in the unlikely event that you don't already know, is the Mendelssohn. But Schubert is better. :D
Yes, I have 4 performances of the Mendelssohn in my collection, and also 3 versions of the Octet: Scherzo for orchestra. The Mendelssohn receives more attention, but my tentative opinion is that the Schubert is better. It's in that class of late in life compositions that are ambitious and sublime. So sad that he didn't live a few more years.

slofstra
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Re: Schubert Octet in F, D803

Post by slofstra » Sun Jun 21, 2020 8:50 pm

maestrob wrote:
Sun Jun 21, 2020 2:25 pm
Hello, Henry.

Schubert was a wonderful master of melody, and I agree that the Octet, which I came to late in life as well, needs first-rate players to make it work. Not just the clarinet, but there are moments for horn that can be ruined by poor intonation. I didn't discover this masterpiece until my middle thirties, when I went on a chamber-music binge, and immediately fell in love with this recording:

Image

Inspired by your post, I also found this on amazon by the Melos Ensemble and am listening to it at the moment. I may add it to my collection:

Image

I also have a version with Oistrakh, but I don't recommend it as the French horn sounds rather flat here and there.
The intonation from Stefan Dohr, principal horn of the BPO, is top class. Very nice on the ears throughout. There must be a better way to say that, but intonation like this is a great pleasure to hear. I think the players are stepping it up as they don't generally have an opportunity to show their chops.
I have the Wiener Octet playing the Mendelssohn. I guess if you're going to have an Octet that's going to be recorded. Thanks for the warning about the Oistrakh. I do have that, so I'll give it a pass. Or maybe I should play a part of it as a point of comparison on the Horn.

barney
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Re: Schubert Octet in F, D803

Post by barney » Mon Jun 22, 2020 2:46 am

slofstra wrote:
Sun Jun 21, 2020 8:42 pm
barney wrote:
Sun Jun 21, 2020 1:41 pm
It's a wonderful work, mature Schubert. I've noted before that from when I was 4 my grandmother used to play me Schubert (my constant request was Symphony 5), so when I really discovered classical music in my late teens Schubert was an early priority, as he has remained since. So I've loved this work for more than four decades.
Another famous and really fine octet, in the unlikely event that you don't already know, is the Mendelssohn. But Schubert is better. :D
Yes, I have 4 performances of the Mendelssohn in my collection, and also 3 versions of the Octet: Scherzo for orchestra. The Mendelssohn receives more attention, but my tentative opinion is that the Schubert is better. It's in that class of late in life compositions that are ambitious and sublime. So sad that he didn't live a few more years.
That's so true! Even if he had lived another five years to Mozart's age, what wondrous works would we have now!

Holden Fourth
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Re: Schubert Octet in F, D803

Post by Holden Fourth » Mon Jun 22, 2020 4:38 am

I've never heard this piece so here goes.

diegobueno
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Re: Schubert Octet in F, D803

Post by diegobueno » Mon Jun 22, 2020 10:35 am

The prominence of the clarinet in Schubert's Octet (as well as the Beethoven Septet which served as its model) is because it is the highest of the three wind instruments in the ensemble. It is the wind counterpart to the first violin, and a lot of the time the composer is passing the melody between the first violin and the clarinet. And what melodies! This is Schubert after all, and at the height of his powers.

There's one really awkwardly difficult passage for the clarinet, involving eighth note triplets in a fast cut time, in the finale (I don't imagine it's much easier for the violin; it was probably easy enough for Schubert to toss it off at the piano though). This gets simplified to eighth notes in some performances, but it is playable as Schubert wrote it. Listen from the 3:30 mark in this performance and you'll hear what I mean.

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Re: Schubert Octet in F, D803

Post by Lance » Mon Jun 22, 2020 1:36 pm

Most anything by Schubert is some of the world's finest music from that period. However, for me, the Mendelssohn Octet remains as supreme. The opening movement, once heard, stays in the mind. Both men, geniuses! If i get to the Pearly White Gates, I want to spend time with both of these composers. Anybody want to join me?
Lance G. Hill
Editor-in-Chief
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When she started to play, Mr. Steinway came down and personally
rubbed his name off the piano. [Speaking about pianist &*$#@+#]

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barney
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Re: Schubert Octet in F, D803

Post by barney » Tue Jun 23, 2020 7:19 pm

Lance wrote:
Mon Jun 22, 2020 1:36 pm
Most anything by Schubert is some of the world's finest music from that period. However, for me, the Mendelssohn Octet remains as supreme. The opening movement, once heard, stays in the mind. Both men, geniuses! If i get to the Pearly White Gates, I want to spend time with both of these composers. Anybody want to join me?
Lance, I wouldn't want to intrude. :D
But I certainly hope to be there!

barney
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Re: Schubert Octet in F, D803

Post by barney » Tue Jun 23, 2020 7:22 pm

diegobueno wrote:
Mon Jun 22, 2020 10:35 am
The prominence of the clarinet in Schubert's Octet (as well as the Beethoven Septet which served as its model) is because it is the highest of the three wind instruments in the ensemble. It is the wind counterpart to the first violin, and a lot of the time the composer is passing the melody between the first violin and the clarinet. And what melodies! This is Schubert after all, and at the height of his powers.

There's one really awkwardly difficult passage for the clarinet, involving eighth note triplets in a fast cut time, in the finale (I don't imagine it's much easier for the violin; it was probably easy enough for Schubert to toss it off at the piano though). This gets simplified to eighth notes in some performances, but it is playable as Schubert wrote it. Listen from the 3:30 mark in this performance and you'll hear what I mean.

Yes, I do see/hear what you mean, and thanks for pointing it out.
Some fabulous playing there.

Lance
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Re: Schubert Octet in F, D803

Post by Lance » Tue Jun 23, 2020 9:54 pm

Barney, I'll be looking for you. If you find I'm not there for some reason, please pull a few strings for me!
barney wrote:
Tue Jun 23, 2020 7:19 pm
Lance wrote:
Mon Jun 22, 2020 1:36 pm
Most anything by Schubert is some of the world's finest music from that period. However, for me, the Mendelssohn Octet remains as supreme. The opening movement, once heard, stays in the mind. Both men, geniuses! If i get to the Pearly White Gates, I want to spend time with both of these composers. Anybody want to join me?
Lance, I wouldn't want to intrude. :D
But I certainly hope to be there!
Lance G. Hill
Editor-in-Chief
______________________________________________________

When she started to play, Mr. Steinway came down and personally
rubbed his name off the piano. [Speaking about pianist &*$#@+#]

Image

barney
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Location: Melbourne, Australia

Re: Schubert Octet in F, D803

Post by barney » Wed Jun 24, 2020 8:37 am

Lance wrote:
Tue Jun 23, 2020 9:54 pm
Barney, I'll be looking for you. If you find I'm not there for some reason, please pull a few strings for me!
barney wrote:
Tue Jun 23, 2020 7:19 pm
Lance wrote:
Mon Jun 22, 2020 1:36 pm
Most anything by Schubert is some of the world's finest music from that period. However, for me, the Mendelssohn Octet remains as supreme. The opening movement, once heard, stays in the mind. Both men, geniuses! If i get to the Pearly White Gates, I want to spend time with both of these composers. Anybody want to join me?
Lance, I wouldn't want to intrude. :D
But I certainly hope to be there!
Looking forward to it, Lance. But forgive me if I hope the pleasure is not too immediate for either of us.

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