(1840-1911) and Bruch
(1838-1920) were almost the same age, but these string octets are separated by more than 50 years. Svendsen wrote his piece while a student at Leipzig Conservatory and was awarded First Prize for his effort, and Breitkopf & Härtel offered to publish it. It is a fine piece, generous in melodies with interesting counterpoint and varying textures. He makes excellent use of his forces; everyone has something to say.
The style is more cosmopolitan, less folk-inspired than the music of Grieg, his Norwegian contemporary. Bruch’s octet was written the year before he died. It is thought to be a reworking of a quintet, now lost; in any case this octet in three movements (no scherzo) was his last work. In the case of Bruch, though, the composition date hardly seems to matter, since his style changed so little. This could easily be something from the 1870s. Whatever its source or date, though, it is a very nice work, rather Brahmsian in sound.
The Tharice Virtuosi is an international group, led by Liviu Prunaru, who is concertmaster of the Concertgebouw Orchestra. The common connection of the players is some association with the International Menuhin Musical Academy, either as student or teacher.
Their playing is a delight, rich in sonority, well balanced, and first rate in ensemble and intonation. Their tempos in the Svendsen are broader than those of the Norwegian group (Arve Tellefsen et al) on NKF 50012, but nothing feels too slow. The Norwegians bring more surface excitement to the scherzo and finale, but the Tharice group allows more of the interplay to come through, and the sonics are better.
A very enjoyable disc, then, one that makesyou wish there were more performing octetsaround so we could hear this music moreoften (along with the Mendelssohn).
Tharice Virtuosi - Claves 1207 - 68 minutes
Article source: American Record Guide, July/August 2016
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