Chamber music is a concentration, not a diminution, of symphonic music.
The first evening opens with Schubert’s Fantasia for piano four hands, written in early 1828. Each melancholic movement follows seamlessly onto the next, divided by delicate, composed breaks that allow it all to flow together like episodes in a dream. Bruch composed his Octet in 1920 but it remained unpublished until 1996. Doubts may have led Bruch not to seek its publication. At the time the language of New Music dominated but Bruch had turned away from this and, in an implicit gesture, kept to a style à la Brahms as if Romanticism had never ended. Dissatisfied with his first Piano Quintet, op. 5, Dvořák began to revise it in 1887. The result was the new Piano Quintet No. 2, op. 81. Dvořák combined a classical-romantic composition technique with elements of folklore, seen above all in the central movements.
Arrangements of Bach, Haydn and Tchaikovsky for eight cellos feature on the second evening and offer the chance to hear and discover well-known works afresh. In contrast, mash-ups of poetry by Ernst Jandl and Gerhard Rühm with music by Bartók open up playful yet serious new spaces of meaning. Krenek’s Miniature draws on a literary technique usually found in verse, in which the first letter of each verse creates a new word. Krenek used this principle as the model for a twelve-tone series.
The final evening, given by the Sugar Ensemble, is guided by the motto 4x8. Four octets by four different composers are performed by members of the orchestra in combinations of contrasting styles: Beethoven is followed by Gideon Klein, Stravinsky by Mozart.