Novoselye: Octets by Afanasyev, Shostakovich & Mendelssohn | Challenge Classics CC72822

Novoselye: Octets by Afanasyev, Shostakovich & Mendelssohn


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Label: Challenge Classics

Cat No: CC72822

Format: CD

Number of Discs: 1

Genre: Chamber

Release Date: 21st February 2020



A disc fully devoted to the string octet repertoire. A well-known masterpiece, Mendelssohn’s Octet, is coupled with the world premiere recording of a remarkable late Romantic Russian work: Afanasyev’s Double Quartet ‘Novoselye’ (Housewarming). Shostakovich’s Prelude and Scherzo completes the album by ROctet.

The double quartet Novoselye by Russian violinist and composer Nikolay Afanasyev (1821-1898) was premiered in St Petersburg in 1886. It is clearly a work by a talented composer with a vast knowledge of string instruments, one who is not averse to a polyphonic style. The composition is especially rich in musical innovation with an abundance of tuneful, folk-like melodies and a hint of melancholy, which lends an unmistakable Russianness to the slow movement. Add to this the vibrant Scherzo, and you have a composition that is festive, high-spirited and virtuosic, as well as melancholic and musically challenging.

The octet was intended as a birthday present for the violinist and conductor Eduard Rietz (1802-1832), who certainly must have prized the virtuoso first violin part. All eight instruments are on an equal footing and work together in perfect harmony. Indeed, were a listener not to know that the work was scored for string octet, he or she might well think of a symphony orchestra. Mendelssohn himself called attention to this sound effect upon publishing this early work in 1832, remarking that all instruments were to play ‘in the style of a symphony’, taking into account all dynamic contrasts. The composer’s nuanced, delicate compositional style and his Romantic, lyrical and tuneful melodies make the Octet one of the most frequently performed works of its kind.

- Joris van Rijn (violin)
- Dimiter Tchernookov (violin)
- Julija Hartig (violin)
- Masha Iakovleva (violin)
- Francien Schatborn (viola)
- Frank Brakkee (viola)
- Eveline Kraayenhof (cello)
- Anneke Janssen (cello)

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