String octet in C major, Op. 7 (1900)
String octet in D major, Op. 5 (1900)
Royal String Quartet / Kwartet Śląski
/// Nowy Teatr
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Eight instruments are not an orchestra yet, but a large chamber ensemble. In 1900, when the two octets performed at this concert were created, the aesthetics of musical romanticism reached the peaks of gargantuanism, burning out long and violently in Gustav Mahler's symphonies or Richard Strauss's symphonic poems. The octet, that is a combination of two string quartets - four violins, two violas and two cellos - is a much earlier invention, but perfectly suited the imagination of young musicians at the time, even if they faced zeitgeist differently. George Enescu had just finished his studies in Paris with Massenet and Fauré (in those days the Romanian middle class was infatuated with the French culture), but his juvenile Octet reveals an uninterrupted link with decadent anxiety of Vienna, the city where Enescu had studied. At first, the work may seem complicated, but it’s the form that binds the density and panache of its musical invention into a homogeneous impression. Its movements, instead of being distinctly different from one another - which was an academic custom, are intertwined in a thematic kinship into a single, emotionally overwhelming entirety.
Reinhold Glier’s story is slightly different, but it also relates to the French aspirations of Eastern Europe. Born in Kiev, a son of a German and a Polish woman, he promoted a French transliteration of his name (Glière), which gave rise to a legend about the artist's French or Belgian roots. And yet, Glier, a graduate of the Moscow Conservatory, was a faithful continuator of the tradition of Russian Romanticism. Although the time since the death of Tchaikovsky (1893) brought significant changes to the Russian school of composition, heralded the arrival of new talents and a wealth of bold ideas, Glier remained an academic classic. In his Octet, melodious folk tunes weave into a purely nineteenth-century structure, time runs around, still returning to the golden years of the Russian national school – that is to what music lovers adore the most...