Isabelle Faust / Anne-Katharina Schreiber / Danusha Waskiewicz

Franz Schubert: Oktett

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Violinist Isabelle Faust and a gathering of first-rate chamber musicians have recorded Franz Schubert's Octet in F major, D. 803 for Harmonia Mundi, and the collaboration is remarkable because the presumably ad hoc ensemble plays with the ease and expressive warmth of a more experienced group. Perhaps Faust is the leader in more than a nominal sense, since the first violinist customarily sets the tempo and acts as a concertmaster, and her part is quite distinct in the recording. However, the other players -- violinist Anne Katharina Schreiber, violist Danusha Waskiewicz, cellist Kristin von der Goltz, double bassist James Munro, clarinetist Lorenzo Coppola, hornist Teunis van der Zwart, and bassoonist Javier Zafra -- are plainly well-coordinated, and it's doubtful that Faust had to do much to keep everyone together. Schubert's Octet presents challenges, not only in its virtuosic parts and its unusual duration of close to an hour, but also in maintaining a balance between the winds and strings. For the most part, the ensemble is evenly blended and the dynamics are adjusted accordingly, so the sound is almost symphonic in its richness and depth, while retaining its intimate chamber character. Also included are two selections from the Five Minuets and Six Trios, D. 89, arranged by Oscar Strasnoy, serving as light encores after the satisfying performance of the Octet. Highly recommended.

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