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Mendelssohn: The Complete String Quartets / Emerson Quartet

Album Summary

>Mendelssohn, Felix : Quartet for Strings no 2 in A minor, Op. 13
>Mendelssohn, Felix : Fugue for string quartet in E flat major, Op. 81/4
>Mendelssohn, Felix : Quartet for Strings no 1 in E flat major, Op. 12
>Mendelssohn, Felix : Quartet for Strings no 4 in E minor, Op. 44 no 2
>Mendelssohn, Felix : Quartet for Strings no 5 in E flat major, Op. 44 no 3
>Mendelssohn, Felix : Quartet for Strings no 3 in D major, Op. 44 no 1
>Mendelssohn, Felix : Capriccio in E minor, Op. 81 no 3
>Mendelssohn, Felix : Quartet for Strings no 6 in F minor, Op. 80
>Mendelssohn, Felix : Pieces (4) for String Quartet, Op. 81
>Mendelssohn, Felix : Scherzo for string quartet in A minor, Op. 81/2
>Mendelssohn, Felix : Octet for strings in E flat major, Op. 20
>Mendelssohn, Felix : Quartet for Strings in E flat major
Composer

Notes & Reviews:

"The experience of listening to the CD recording of the Octet is surreal. The other quartets are more plausible, though concert performances with playing this flawless and this meticulously balanced are rare. This recording would have a special appeal to young people who are technologically-minded when it comes to music." - Fine, American Record Guide

Gramophone Classical Music Guide
Cycles of Mendelssohn's string quartets are no longer a rarity and now the Emersons issue a full cycle that includes not only the early E flat work of 1823 and the Op 81 miscellaneous pieces but the Octet, which as a recording tour de force they play with themselves, as it were. The Emersons have much to offer. One of their outstanding qualities is a sympathy for the tensions that so often lie within Mendelssohn's most apparently open music. They are also sensitive to the subtleties in his forms, above all in the first movements where there can lie a greater degree of emotional turbulence than is immediately evident. The Scherzo of the Fifth Quartet has a vehemence as well as a vigour, which the Emersons discover in the fierce figuration, and which is to some degree realised with the music's unexpected outcome in a fugue. If the Emersons' response to the finale seems overemphatic, this may be heard as the product of a movement that Mendelssohn marks emphatically, perhaps because the animation in the music does not seem to come from as deep as it does elsewhere in the quartets. There is, on the other hand, a delightful freshness of response to the whole of the Third Quartet (actually the last of the Op 44 set of three to have been written).

The final tarantella whirls along brilliantly. In Quartet No 2, with its questioning motto 'Ist es wahr?' ('Is it true?'), the Emersons handle the opening movement lightly but again with that underlying touch of anxiety; they play the Adagio gravely and sense well the disturbance that informs the complexity of the finale. Their flexibility of response suits the opening movement of the First Quartet (they are more direct with the more straightforward opening movement of No 4), and they play the pretty Canzonetta quite lightly and briskly.

The last quartet, Op 80, Mendelssohn's masterpiece in the form, at once sums up his preoccupations in the previous quartets and sets them in a more profound context. The modulations within a sonata form movement, which with Mendelssohn are so often colourful or elegant, here take on a darker tinge which the Emersons understand, and they play the closing dozen bars of the Adagio with a touching sadness: the composer had recently learnt of the death of his beloved sister Fanny.



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Works Details

>Mendelssohn, Felix : Quartet for Strings no 2 in A minor, Op. 13
  • Running Time: 28 min. 39 sec.
  • Period Time: Romantic
  • Written: 10/26/1827

>Mendelssohn, Felix : Fugue for string quartet in E flat major, Op. 81/4
  • Running Time: 4 min. 57 sec.
  • Period Time: Romantic
  • Written: 11/01/1827

>Mendelssohn, Felix : Quartet for Strings no 1 in E flat major, Op. 12
  • Running Time: 22 min. 10 sec.
  • Period Time: Romantic
  • Written: 09/14/1829

>Mendelssohn, Felix : Quartet for Strings no 4 in E minor, Op. 44 no 2
  • Running Time: 27 min. 7 sec.
  • Period Time: Romantic
  • Form: Chamber Music
  • Written: 06/18/1837

>Mendelssohn, Felix : Quartet for Strings no 5 in E flat major, Op. 44 no 3
  • Running Time: 33 min. 6 sec.
  • Period Time: Romantic
  • Form: Chamber Music
  • Written: 02/06/1838

>Mendelssohn, Felix : Quartet for Strings no 3 in D major, Op. 44 no 1
  • Running Time: 30 min. 12 sec.
  • Period Time: Romantic
  • Form: Chamber Music
  • Written: 07/24/1838

>Mendelssohn, Felix : Capriccio in E minor, Op. 81 no 3
  • Running Time: 5 min. 52 sec.
  • Period Time: Romantic
  • Written: 07/05/1843

>Mendelssohn, Felix : Quartet for Strings no 6 in F minor, Op. 80
  • Running Time: 23 min. 15 sec.
  • Period Time: Romantic
  • Form: Chamber Music
  • Written: 09/1847

>Mendelssohn, Felix : Pieces (4) for String Quartet, Op. 81
  • Running Time: 5 min. 38 sec.
  • Period Time: Romantic
  • Written: circa 08/1847

>Mendelssohn, Felix : Scherzo for string quartet in A minor, Op. 81/2
  • Running Time: 3 min. 25 sec.
  • Period Time: Romantic
  • Written: circa 08/1847

>Mendelssohn, Felix : Octet for strings in E flat major, Op. 20
  • Running Time: 29 min. 45 sec.
  • Period Time: Romantic
  • Form: Chamber Music
  • Written: 10/15/1825

>Mendelssohn, Felix : Quartet for Strings in E flat major
  • Running Time: 23 min. 11 sec.
  • Period Time: Romantic
  • Form: Chamber Music
  • Written: circa 03/05/1823