Septet in E Major, Op.40
For Violin, Viola Cello, Bass, Clarinet, Horn & Bassoon
"Adolphe Blanc's Septet for violin, viola, cello, bass, clarinet, horn and bassoon was composed for the same combination of instruments as Beethoven's famous Op.20 Septet. It was composed in 1861 and was one of the works for which Blanc was awarded the Chartier Chamber Music Prize. The Septet has good parts and solos for each instrument, including even the bass. It is grateful to play and in no way difficult. The wonderful melodies and finely constructed movements reveal the hand of a master. This work is to be strongly recommended to amateurs, and yet, it belongs in the concert hall as well."
This was the considered opinion of the famous chamber music critic and scholar Wilhelm Altmann.
The opening movement, Allegro, begins with a genial melody in the strings and then is further developed by the winds. The lovely second theme, introduced by the clarinet, is wistful and somewhat yearning. In the following Andante, Blanc begins by creating a heavy sound palette, reminiscent of the Beethoven, with its warm melody first stated by the cello. The treatment of the second subject is unsurpassed. The writing for the horn is extraordinarily good. The short, whirlwind Scherzo, Tarantelle, which comes next is perfection itself, one only wishes it were longer! The finale begins with a long and slow Andante maestoso introduction, given out by the viola alone and then with the bass. It is doleful and penetrating, with each voice joining in with a solo. (our sound-bite gives about half of it). The lovely melodies of the main section, Allegro moderato, along with rousing coda, brings the septet to a triumphant finish.
Septets are not assembled all that often. So when the Beethoven is played--what next? Certainly the Blanc is a fine answer. The part-writing is superb and the melodies appealing. (Other septets for the same combination, which you may also wish to consider and which we publish are those by Conradin Kreutzer, Franz Berwald, and Mikahil Glinka (click on their names to go to their pages) The Blanc Septet was only printed once. Unfortunately, it was in a substandard edition with poor quality paper, no rehearsal numbers and several errors. Our reprint edition, on high gloss quality paper, has corrected the errors, added rehearsal numbers, and removed hundreds of water marks from the 140 year old copy off of which we were forced to work. The result is a readable performance edition though not the equal of modern editions by any means. The price, less than our generally very low prices, reflects this fact.