Mendelssohn: The Complete String Quartets

( 2 )

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - EJ Johnson
With their complete Beethoven, Bartók, and Shostakovich quartet cycles as prizewinning feathers in their caps, the members of the Emerson String Quartet turn to the work of Felix Mendelssohn on their latest integral set. While Mendelssohn's chamber music may not be as familiar as his orchestral work, the seven quartets, which span his creative life, encapsulate nicely the composer's blend of Romantic expression with Classical form, as well as his frequent turn to Baroque fugal technique. From the two early Quartets Opp. 12 and 13 through the three Quartets Op. 44 and finally the remarkable F Minor Quartet Op. 80 -- composed in response to the premature death of ...
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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - EJ Johnson
With their complete Beethoven, Bartók, and Shostakovich quartet cycles as prizewinning feathers in their caps, the members of the Emerson String Quartet turn to the work of Felix Mendelssohn on their latest integral set. While Mendelssohn's chamber music may not be as familiar as his orchestral work, the seven quartets, which span his creative life, encapsulate nicely the composer's blend of Romantic expression with Classical form, as well as his frequent turn to Baroque fugal technique. From the two early Quartets Opp. 12 and 13 through the three Quartets Op. 44 and finally the remarkable F Minor Quartet Op. 80 -- composed in response to the premature death of Mendelssohn's sister -- the Emersons reveal this underappreciated repertoire with playing of great precision, clarity, and vigor. Moving beyond the six numbered quartets, the completer-than-complete set also includes the student-period E-flat Quartet, as well as several single-movement compositions -- from an early fugue to the late Theme and Variations and A Minor Scherzo, possibly intended as portions of an eighth quartet, had Mendelssohn lived to complete it. What really sets this collection apart, however, is the addition on a bonus disc of the E-flat Octet, written when Mendelssohn was only 16 and one of chamber music's true treasures. Using the magic of multi-track recording, the four musicians perform all eight parts, two per player, with a separate instrument devoted to each line in the score, so as to extend the illusion of eight actual players. It's a virtuoso technical feat not only for the Emersons but also for producer Da-Hong Seetoo, who manages to keep track of all the threads and assemble a thoroughly convincing performance. You can watch it all come together on a documentary included on a CD-ROM portion of the fourth disc, while musicologist R. Larry Todd's excellent booklet essay affords a lucid historical and stylistic perspective on this delightful body of music.
All Music Guide - James Leonard
This set of the "String Quartets" of Mendelssohn may prove to be the most lasting contribution the Emerson Quartet has yet made to the string quartet discography. While the Emerson has always been slightly out of its depth in the quartets of Bartók, Beethoven, and Shostakovich, in the quartets of Mendelssohn, the Emerson has met its match. This is not to disparage either the Emerson Quartet, much less Mendelssohn. The Emerson is easily the finest string quartet in contemporary America, a supple ensemble with a warm tone, a strong technique, and an expressive manner. And Mendelssohn is easily the finest of the German composers of the 1830s and 1840s, a polished composer with an inexhaustible imagination, an assured technique, and an ardent heart. Together, Mendelssohn and the Emerson are smart, stylish, witty, and touching. It is a pleasure to spend time in their company. While the vehemence of Bartók, the sublimity of Beethoven, and the agony of Shostakovich may be just beyond the reach of the Emerson, the humanity of Mendelssohn is well within its grasp. Deutsche Grammophon's sound is clear, warm, and deep.
All Music Guide - James Leonard
This set of the "String Quartets" of Mendelssohn may prove to be the most lasting contribution the Emerson Quartet has yet made to the string quartet discography. While the Emerson has always been slightly out of its depth in the quartets of Bartók, Beethoven, and Shostakovich, in the quartets of Mendelssohn, the Emerson has met its match. This is not to disparage either the Emerson Quartet, much less Mendelssohn. The Emerson is easily the finest string quartet in contemporary America, a supple ensemble with a warm tone, a strong technique, and an expressive manner. And Mendelssohn is easily the finest of the German composers of the 1830s and 1840s, a polished composer with an inexhaustible imagination, an assured technique, and an ardent heart. Together, Mendelssohn and the Emerson are smart, stylish, witty, and touching. It is a pleasure to spend time in their company. While the vehemence of Bartók, the sublimity of Beethoven, and the agony of Shostakovich may be just beyond the reach of the Emerson, the humanity of Mendelssohn is well within its grasp. Deutsche Grammophon's sound is clear, warm, and deep.
New York Times - Jeremy Eichler
[A] warm, vigorous and intelligent survey of the complete Mendelssohn string quartets, often remarkable music that weds an evolving exploration of form with a Romantic depth of feeling.
Gramophone - John Warrack
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.... An intelligent, perceptive, sympathetic group of performances.
Classic FM Magazine - David A. Threasher
[May 2005 Disc of the Month] The Emersons masterfully paint the myriad colours of Mendelssohn’s chamber music, negotiating its range from the wide-eyed innocence of the early works to the harrowing emotions of the ‘Requiem for Fanny’.

This set of the "String Quartets" of Mendelssohn may prove to be the most lasting contribution the Emerson Quartet has yet made to the string quartet discography. While the Emerson has always been slightly out of its depth in the quartets of Bartók, Beethoven, and Shostakovich, in the quartets of Mendelssohn, the Emerson has met its match. This is not to disparage either the Emerson Quartet, much less Mendelssohn. The Emerson is easily the finest string quartet in contemporary America, a supple ensemble with a warm tone, a strong technique, and an expressive manner. And Mendelssohn is easily the finest of the German composers of the 1830s and 1840s, a polished composer with an inexhaustible imagination, an assured technique, and an ardent heart. Together, Mendelssohn and the Emerson are smart, stylish, witty, and touching. It is a pleasure to spend time in their company. While the vehemence of Bartók, the sublimity of Beethoven, and the agony of Shostakovich may be just beyond the reach of the Emerson, the humanity of Mendelssohn is well within its grasp. Deutsche Grammophon's sound is clear, warm, and deep.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 1/11/2005
  • Label: Deutsche Grammophon
  • UPC: 028947753704
  • Catalog Number: 000388802
  • Sales rank: 81,404

Tracks

Disc 1
  1. 1–4 String Quartet No. 2 in A minor, Op. 13 - Christopher Alder & Felix Mendelssohn (29:19)
  2. 2 Fugue for string quartet in E flat major, Op. 81/4 - Christopher Alder & Felix Mendelssohn (4:57)
  3. 6–9 String Quartet No. 1 in E flat major, Op. 12 - Christopher Alder & Felix Mendelssohn (23:30)
Disc 2
  1. 1–4 String Quartet No. 4 in E minor, Op.44/2 - Christopher Alder & Felix Mendelssohn (27:07)
  2. 5–8 String Quartet No. 5 in E flat major, Op.44/3 - Christopher Alder & Felix Mendelssohn (33:06)
Disc 3
  1. 1–4 String Quartet No. 3 in D major, Op.44/1 - Christopher Alder & Felix Mendelssohn (30:52)
  2. 2 Capriccio for string quartet in E minor, Op. 81/3 - Christopher Alder & Felix Mendelssohn (5:52)
  3. 6–9 String Quartet No. 6 in F minor, Op. 80 - Christopher Alder & Felix Mendelssohn (23:55)
  4. 7 Andante sostenuto & Variations for string quartet in E major, Op. 81/1 - Christopher Alder & Felix Mendelssohn (5:38)
  5. 8 Scherzo for string quartet in A minor, Op. 81/2 - Christopher Alder & Felix Mendelssohn (3:25)
Disc 4
  1. 1–4 Octet for strings in E flat major, Op. 20 - Christopher Alder & Felix Mendelssohn (30:25)
  2. 5–8 String Quartet in E flat major - Christopher Alder & Felix Mendelssohn (23:51)
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Album Credits

Performance Credits
Emerson String Quartet Primary Artist
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