Mendelssohn: Octet; Piano trio

Review by: David Hurwitz

Artistic Quality: 10

Sound Quality: 9

This stellar recording of the Mendelssohn Octet certainly fulfills the high expectations aroused at the prospect of combining the efforts of the superlative Smetana and Janácek Quartets. The first movement surges with uninhibited verve, reaching an amazing level of tension by the end of the exposition, all with impeccable rhythm, subtle dynamic gradations, and dead-accurate intonation. The minor-key episode in the development section has just the right touch of pathos. After a naturally singing Andante, the famous scherzo has just the right feeling of lightness, while the finale’s effortless momentum carries all before it.

The Suk Trio’s performance of the First Trio, a seriously underrated work full of passion and brilliant instrumental writing (particularly in its outer movements), treats the music with the seriousness and intensity that it deserves. As usual with this trio, Jan Panenka balances his piano ideally against his colleagues, and in 1966 the group was at the absolute top of its form. Supraphon’s expert remastering in both works compares favorably with the best on offer today, at least with respect to clarity and natural warmth. This lively, virile chamber music recording belongs in every collection, particularly if you think Mendelssohn was merely a spoiled wimp. [5/10/2002]

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Recording Details:

Reference Recording: Octet: This One

FELIX MENDELSSOHN - Octet; Piano Trio No. 1 in D minor

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