Feb. 25th, 2017

drplacebo: (Neuro notes)
Since I'm up really late, I might as well throw in another Forgotten Masterpiece Friday repost. This one was my second on Facebook, posted December 23, 2016. And like my most recent post, it also happens to be Scandinavian music in the vein of Mendelssohn.

Niels Gade (1817-1890) was Mendelssohn's assistant for three years before succeeded him as music director of the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra. Gade is perhaps the reason Mendelssohn had such an influence on the Scandinavian composers of the mid-to-late 19th century: he founded the Royal Danish Academy of Music, and his pupils included virtually every Scandinavian composer of note for several decades, including Edvard Grieg and Carl Nielsen. Gade's string octet, composed in 1848 shortly after Mendelssohn's death, lacks an express dedication but was clearly a homage to his mentor. It follows the form of Mendelssohn's octet almost exactly, with closely matched tempo markings, and like Mendelssohn's octet leans toward an orchestral treatment of the ensemble.

But Gade's piece is a mature masterwork in itself. Composed 23 years after Mendelssohn's, displays the denser, more elaborate harmonies that had become typical by then. It shows a sunnier, more extroverted bent than its predecessor, especially in its light, charming scherzo. The finale begins more lyrically, but gradually builds momentum and finishes with roof-raising energy.

This performance is split into two videos right at the 15-minute mark, so unfortunately the cut is right in the middle of the second movement. There's another performance on YouTube broken more conventionally by movement, but I prefer this interpretation.

I highly recommend the recording I have in my CD collection, which takes similar tempi to this performance on YouTube: the Deutsche Grammophon recording of this piece along with Gade's sextet, by string players from the Berlin Philharmonic.

Videos below the cut... )

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Andrew

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