Friday, January 8, 2021

Wigmore Hall, London

For a delightful sixty-five minutes – balm to the ears and stimulation to the senses – this debut recital by Wigmore Soloists brought Schubert’s six-movement Octet (D803) to the World. Playing to an audience-free Wigmore Hall, the excellent sound and picture extended this dedicated and interactive performance beyond the confines of this venerable venue.

This ensemble of distinguished personnel* gave an expressive and expansive account, potent in the slow introduction that led to an energetic/feisty first-movement proper (its lengthy exposition repeated), moments of repose thoughtfully integrated. There followed a spacious Adagio of blissful contentment and refulgent tone, then came a Scherzo of infectious bounce, with a perky clarinet, the Trio taken at an attractive canter.

The divertissement that is the fourth movement was wittily introduced, later variants of character and tempo relished, and then the ensuing Minuet was savoured for its soulfulness, the Trio bringing the flavour of a coffee-house. The Finale begins in ominous fashion – suggesting a storm brewing – until the Allegro arrives and all is sunshine and dancing on the village green, swingingly rhythmical from these musicians who went on to display an ever-keener sense of finishing-post exhilaration.

*Isabelle van Keulen & Laura Samuel (violins), Timothy Ridout (viola), Kristina Blaumane (cello), Tim Gibbs (double bass), Michael Collins (clarinet), Robin O’Neill (bassoon) & Alberto Menéndez Escribano (horn)

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