Reicha and Beethoven were both composers and were both born in the year 1770. They met in Bonn and even played together for several years in Bonn’s orchestra pit. The Concert de la Loge takes the opportunity of their 250th birthday to pay them a tribute, with this recording that brings together Beethoven’s Septet op.20 (for an atypical
string quartet with violin, viola, cello and double bass, plus clarinet, horn and bassoon) and Reicha’s Grande Symphonie de Salon no.1 (for string quintet, oboe, clarinet, cor and bassoon). These hybrid works are situated at crossroads between chamber music and symphony and reflect the taste of experimentation of their composers.
The sophisticated instrumental lines of Beethoven’s work meet here the great orchestral charism of Reicha, whom Berlioz hailed as a “true revolutionary” when he was nominated at the head of the Académie des Beaux-Arts’s music section.
Julien Chauvin and his musicians offer here a double-portrait album that allows us to hear the similarities between French and German musical aesthetics as well as the relative singularity of these audacious works. Their musical rigor doesn’t take away the fantasy that lies within it, even in chamber pieces and one can only acknowledge the orchestral virtuosity that stems from it.
The Beethoven itself is nighon indestructible and played, like the Reicha, with a great deal of panache by this group, drawn from the period-instrument ranks of Julien Chauvin’s Le Concert de la Loge. The Reicha is a worthwhile and welcome addition to the repertoire. Gramophone