Bruch: String Octet in B flat major, Op posth; String Quintets in A minor and E flat major, Opp posth

Reviewed on Fri 14 Apr, 2017

The String Octet in particular is singularly impressive and surely represents a genuine find.

These three very likeable chamber offerings by Max Bruch (1838-1920) – all written in Berlin towards the very end of his career – receive joyously assured treatment from the distinguished members of The Nash Ensemble on this truthfully engineered Hyperion release. Both string quintets date from 1918 and are as mellifluous as they are impeccably crafted, the E flat major being rather more tautly conceived than its A minor sibling. A third quintet from the same period was reworked by Bruch during the last year of his life into an Octet in B flat major for four violins, two violas, cello and double bass. All three works were not revived until the late 1930s, when they were broadcast by the BBC; the E flat major Quintet was given at London's Wigmore Hall and recorded in July 2008 by the Henschel Quartet and violist Kazuki Sawa. None is exactly an undiscovered masterpiece, but the Octet in particular is singularly impressive, having more than its fair share of captivating inspiration, and surely represents a genuine find. Tully Potter supplies a personable and authoritative booklet-essay, and collectors with a sweet tooth will find the disc as a whole well worth seeking out.
–Andrew Achenbach