Octets by Gade & Mendelssohn
The Sorcerer and his Apprentice
Music history is littered with examples of the astonishing Wunderkind, the exceptionally gifted child or adolescent with talent that comes across as miraculous - “a wonder of nature”, as Leopold Mozart wrote about his 6 year old son Wolfgang. Felix Mendelssohn was born into the upper class, and his background and education were the best imaginable. But this cannot explain how, as a 16 year old, he managed to write one of the most sparkling masterpieces of the chamber music repertoire, the exceptionally original and engaging Octet from 1825 for eight solo strings.
Danish Niels Wilhelm Gade had the good fortune to be “discovered” by Mendelssohn right at the time that the Leipziger was at the pinnacle of his fame. When in 1842 he performed Gade’s first symphony there, its success was so overwhelming that the Danish government provided for the 25-year old Gade’s journey to Leipzig where he himself quickly established a career. After Mendelssohn died at only 38 years of age, Gade took over his position as chief conductor of the Gewandhaus Orchestra. This gave rise to the fact that he himself now set about composing an octet modeled on Mendelssohn’s masterpiece. A testimonial to his brilliant mentor, and also a show of gratitude that Gade, already in his own life, achieved the status of being the most acclaimed composer his country had ever known.
F. Mendelssohn: A Midsummer Night's Dream – Overture, Op. 21 (1826), arr.: Peter Hanson and Roy Mowatt
N. W. Gade: Octet Op. 17 in F Major (1849)
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F. Mendelssohn: Octet op. 20 in E flat Major (1825)