Festival Vancouver
Alcon Schubert Plus Series
Octet in F major

Dates: 15 August 2003 at 11.00
: First Baptist Church

Reviewer: Elizabeth Paterson






Andrew Dawes, Patricia Shih, violin
David Harding viola Kaori Yamagami, cello
Michelle Herrera, bass Francois Houle, clarinet Jesse Read, bassoon Oliver de Clercq, French horn

Schubert Song Circle: Ben Schnitzer, tenor Pierre Hungr, baritone Karen Lee-Morlang, piano.

From solo through trio, quartet and quintet, we arrive at the final concert in the Alcon Schubert Plus Series and Schubert's Octet in F major, D. 803. Count Ferdinand Troyer, a talented amateur clarinetist, urged Schubert to write a follow-up piece to Beethoven's by then 25 year old hit Septet. Schubert duly obliged, adding an extra violin part to the mix.

The ensemble played this work of energy and elan with great verve and a clear sense of musical architecture. The themes and rhythms that weave through all the movements were clearly and intelligently articulated. The ravishing second movement Adagio was beautifully played, particularly by Francois Houle on clarinet. Indeed the clarinet throughout was haunting. But all the voices were excellent. Standing out in memory were the clarinet and horn in the opening Adagio, the violins in octaves, horn and bass pulsing like a slow heart-beat, the tremolandi of the last movement.





The Schubert Circle opener again drew its theme from the principal work. "Die Gotter Griechenlands" is quoted in the last movement of the Octet and provided the cue for the choice of songs. This was a masculine day. Baritone Pierre Hungr gave us a heroic, forceful Atlas in Der Atlas", and a dramatic "Die Gotter Griechenlands". Ben Schnizer, tenor, sang the first and last lied with a more lyric touch. These were the charming "An die Leier" (To the lyre), a German translation of a Greek poem, and one of Schubert's more heart-breakingly lovely songs, "Der Musensohn" (The muses son). Karen Lee-Morland's interpretation at the piano was intelligent and always supportive of both the singers and the song.

This programme will be broadcast by Radio Canada, La Chaine Culturelle on Les Lieux qui chantent.  Check the CBC/Radio Canada listings for dates and times.

2003, Elizabeth Paterson