Octet in B flat Major, Op.156
For Flute, Oboe, 2 Clarinets, 2 Horns & 2 Bassoons
Franz Lachner (1803-90) was born in Rain am Lech, a small Bavarian town and trained in Munich. In 1823, by winning a musical competition, Lachner was awarded a position as an organist in a church in Vienna. In Vienna, he met Schubert. “We two, Schubert and I, spent most of our time together sketching new compositions. We were the closest of friends, mornings performing for each other and discussing in depth every imaginable topic with the greatest of candor.” It should come as no surprise then that Schubert influenced Lachner’s musical compositions more than anyone else.
He left Vienna in 1834 and returned to Munich where he remained the rest of his life, serving as Conductor of the Royal Bavarian Orchestra from 1834 to 1868. He also held the position of Professor of Composition at the Royal Conservatory. That Lachner’s compositions began to disappear from the performance stage was due in large part to the fact that Lachner became an antagonist of Richard Wagner and his music. Wagner and his supporters, of course, retaliated and when they eventually gained the ear of the King, they were, by 1870, able to control what was performed, at least in Bavaria.
The Octet dates from around 1850. In it, Lachner makes a conscious attempt to stylistically link his music to that of his early romantic contemporaries. But neither Beethoven's Septet nor Schubert's Octet serve as his model. The Octet was originally intended as a symphony for wind instruments and was written on a large scale. One finds the part writing for each of the voices is exceptionally good. The opening Allegro moderato begins in genial fashion and has a somewhat symphonic feel to it. The development is leisure and the sound canvas broad. The Adagio which follows begins as a somber chorale in the lower voices. The developments brings drama with it. A lively Scherzo comes next. The main theme is playful and full of chromatic tricks. The slower trio section provides a fine contrast. The finale, Allegro ma non troppo, though it begins quietly, has a triumphant air about it. It blends a mood of joviality with several exciting episodes.
This is a first rate work for wind ensemble. An excellent candidate for the concert hall, but also a highly desirable choice for amateur ensembles. Either out of print or hard to find, and then expensive, we have reprinted the original edition and make it available at a very modest price in hopes that it will find new fans.