Niels Gade: Chamber works Vol. 1

Ensemble MidtVest
62:23
cpo 777 164-2
Piano Trio in F, op. 42, String Sextet in E flat, op. 44 & early version of op. 44/i

This is the first volume in a series to be dedicated to all of Gade’s chamber music, sponsored – apart from state and local government funding – by the “friends of the ensemble”. As Finn Egeland Hansen’s interesting booklet note explains, the repertoire is dominated by strings (there is only one work that does not feature the violin!) As well as five works for string quartet, he wrote a quintet and an octet, as well as the sextet on the present CD. Completed in 1863, it seems not to have satisfied Gade and, as well as amending to movements 2 to 4, he composed an entirely new first movement the following year. In the name of completeness, the original version is also included. The piano trio that fills the remainder of the disc shares various characteristics – the “slow” movement (in both cases and Andantino) is placed third, after a scherzo and trio in five sections; both have elements reminiscent of Mendelssohn’s “Midsummernight’s Dream” or his octet, though the sextet has the intensity and rich harmonies of Brahms, whose first sextet appeared only a few years earlier. Although they play on modern instruments, Ensemble MidtVest embrace all the positive elements of the HIP creed – the texture is clear so all the individual voices are audible, no one part dominates the sound. Gade’s music is tuneful and readily accessible – on this evidence, Ensemble MidtVest’s series can only attract more admirers.

Brian Clark