Mullova Ensemble

Schubert: Octet

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This performance of Schubert's Octet is finely, even superbly, played. The Mullova Ensemble is made of first-rate soloists starting with their namesake Viktoria Mullova on violin down to Manuel Fischer-Dieskau on cello, and they perform together with an easy intimacy and comfortable camaraderie. It is also affectionately, even lovingly, interpreted. The players of the Mullova Ensemble are clearly as fond of the music as they are of each other and in their hands Schubert's melodies sing, his harmonies glow, his rhythms dance, and his spirit soars. But while it is not possible to fault its ability or sincerity, it still has to be said that the Mullova Ensemble's performance is reserved and even withdrawn. The dynamics seem constrained and the joy seems restrained. The colors seem wan and the warmth seems drained. It is as if the players, afraid of waking someone sleeping in the next room, are too timid to play at full strength. Fans of the heretofore sweet-toned and strong-armed Viktoria Mullova may be thrilled to have a new disc by her, but may also be disappointed by the lack of her old fire. Onyx's sound is likewise full but a little dim, detailed but a bit distant.

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