Christian Tetzlaff, Artist in Residence this season, will play octets with members of the Berliner Philharmoniker. Besides Franz Schubert’s famous cheerful yet profound F major octet, the programme includes the octet by Jörg Widmann, one of the most successful composers of our times. Referring to Schubert’s work, Widmann expertly plays with intimate, chamber music-style and large-scale orchestral outlines.
Octet in F major D 803
Introduction: 7:00 pm
From today’s perspective, it seems an understatement that Schubert’s F-major Octet was called in the Wiener Allgemeine Zeitung a piece “in keeping with the composer’s well-known talent.” After all, Schubert went down in music history with this work, full of elan and tone colours that shimmer like a kaleidoscope, taking up the spirit of the divertimento from the late 18th century and raising it to a new level: he created the octet genre. In doing so, his instrumental richness of ideas knew no bounds, as he sometimes treated the ensemble as a small orchestra – for instance, with parallel octaves in the two violins, and by keenly contrasting between solo and tutti sounds, but also knew how to combine string and wind sounds with real chamber music finesse.
With such an alternation between intimate, chamber music-style and large-scale orchestral outlines, Jörg Widmann’s octet – which will also be heard in this Philharmonic chamber concert together with Philharmonic Artist in Residence Christian Tetzlaff and members of the orchestra – consciously establishes a direct reference to Schubert’s composition, which he has called “the central reference work”. The Intrada is surprisingly tonal; it begins in unison, as does Schubert’s first movement, and Widmann achieves an almost symphonic twelve-voice effect using double stops. The central middle movement of “inescapable sadness” (Widmann) is strongly influenced by Schubertian music, whereas the finale, bubbling over with vitality, provides a positive ending.