The Octet in F major, D. 803, by Schubert is written for a very odd assortment of instruments, according to Olga Kaler, Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra violinist.
The selection features two violins, a viola, a cello, a bass, a clarinet, a bassoon and a horn.
Yet, a chamber group of CSO members will assemble with that assortment of instruments at 3 p.m. July 31 in Elizabeth S. Lenna Hall.
Kaler said Schubert created the selection, which consists of six movements, because he had close friends who played those instruments.
She described it as “a piece to be played by friends for friends,” and said it holds true in this scenario, as well. The eight CSO members playing all have a long history of friendship, she said.
French hornist Roger Kaza said the combination of strings and winds did not fit into any regularly scheduled event series at Chautauqua Institution. However, once the idea was suggested to the CSO interest was sparked quickly.
The group consists of Kaler, Kaza, Amanda Armstrong, Lars Kirvan, Owen Lee, Eli Eban and Jeff Robinson. Most have worked in smaller groups outside of the CSO before, but this concert will serve as the debut for this particular collection of musicians.
Kaza compared these musicians — branching out from the CSO to a chamber group with no conductor — to a sports team doing something on their own without their coach.
“We have to be very candid and yet tactful with each other,” Kaza said. “It is extremely fulfilling because we are entirely in charge of the final project.”
Kaler said the show feels like a cross between a solo performance and an orchestral performance.
“Of course when no one else plays your part you certainly have many more artistic choices and much more artistic freedom,” Kaler said.
Schubert composed music in Vienna at the same time as Beethoven, Kaza said. He was not as much of a proponent of his own work as Beethoven, but his octet quickly became a gem of the chamber music repertoire.
“It’s an absolute masterpiece,” Kaza said. “It is at the summit of some of the best music ever written.”