Vol.XXIII: Franz Schubert – Octet op. 166

Oleg Kagan & Pavel Vernikov (Violin), Yuri Bashmet (Viola), Natalia Gutman (Cello), Jiri Parvianen (Double Bass), Eduard Brunner (Clarinet), Valery Popov (Bassoon), Radovan Vlatkovic (Horn); Kuhmo 1985

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This recording, made at the Kuhmo Chamber Music Festival in Kuhmo (Finland) in 1985 reveals the dramatic, serious side of Schubert. The slow sections, particularly the opening Adagio, are played with unusual intensity, and the fast sections are not particularly light of foot. You might say the MUSIC doesn’t smile very much. But it is extremely well played, beautifully in tune, with the kind of detailing and passion that bring real stature to Schubert.

This is not the best choice if you want Schubert with a sense of fragility and vulnerability. On the other hand if you like Schubert with rich 19th Century ripeness, passionate and mature, this release would be a perfect choice. I went back and listened to some older recordings (e.g. the Academy Chamber Ensemble) that bring a more classical spirit to Schubert, and I’ll confess I liked Kagan’s group better. For the time being I‘ll pulling this one off the shelf when I want to hear the Octet.

American Record Guide 8/00

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