Ensemble Prisma Wien

Schubert: Octet

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Franz Schubert's Octet in F major was his largest scale chamber work, composed for clarinet, bassoon, horn, 2 violins, viola, cello, and double-bass, and its duration is close to an hour in most performances. This expansive six-movement work is a little reminiscent of the Classical-era divertimento, though Schubert's model for it was Ludwig van Beethoven's Septet in E flat major, which, except for the second violin, had identical instrumentation. Ensemble Prisma Wien presents the Octet, along with a lively version of the Marche militaire, in a historically informed style, and the extraordinary production values of Camerata make this recording a pure delight. The strings have a marvelously clean tone that shows almost no vibrato but ample brilliance, and the period sonorities of the winds are distinctive in their timbres and clear in articulation. Add to this the pristine recording in nearly ideal studio acoustics, and the music comes to life in a way few other performances can match. Aside from some slight mistakes of intonation, which in their odd way bring a bit of charm and quirkiness to the proceedings, this is a vibrant and colorful performance with nearly palpable presence and immaculate sound, so it is heartily recommended for all fans of chamber music.

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