- String Quartet No. 4 in E minor, Op.44/2
- String Quartet in E flat major
- String Quartet No. 1 in E flat major, Op. 12
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Mendelssohn: Quartets Nos. 1 & 4 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Energetically played music from Mendelssohn! This CD consists of 3 string quartets writeen by Felix Mendelssohn and performed by the excellent and driven Escher String Quartet. String Quartet #1 in E-flat Major, Op. 12, is not the first String Quartet that Mendelssohn wrote, despite the nomenclature. More details on this are found in the well-written and informative liner notes. But musically, the first movement is so characteristically Mendelssohnion in both its development and rhythmic patterns that the Allegretto 2nd movement seems naturally energetic and almost nobly spritely. The 3rd movement, Andante espressivo, is most certainly expressive and heartfelt as performed by the Escher, and the way they bring this section to life just seems “right”. The 4th movement brings this piece to a gentle close. The 2nd piece is the earliest piece written, the Quartet in E-flat Major MWV R18. The 2nd movement I found particularly captivating, between the marvelous descent into the lower register and the sweetness of the violin shortly thereafter. This is not to say that there is anything wrong with the Minuetto 3rd movement, that just warmly makes itself intellectually felt. And the 4th movement “Fuga” is just delightful. The last piece on this recording is the Quartet in E minor, Op. 44, No. 2. The 1st movement is filled with frenetic energy, requiring deft timing and teamed virtuosity from the Escher Quartet, and they show that they are most definitely up to the task. It is also clear from the 3rd movement that gentle and driven sonorities are something that this group also does well, as the give and take in this movement is gorgeously presented here. And the 4th movement is filled with frenetic energy as called for by the composer, the kind of playing that is guaranteed to have a live audience on the edge of their seats. This is good, solid work, and a treat to listen to. This is a SACD and I have to tip my hat to the recording engineer here, as the recording is lively and warm, and while nothing compares to the feeling of a live chamber music concert, this disc captures that feeling as well as I feel it can be captured given the differences between a stereo reproduction and the effects of a lively hall. This is a marvelous recording, and if you enjoy Mendelssohn’s string quartets then this disc is for you. Very Highly Recommended!
An ingratiating lyricism combined with an innate sense of classical proportion informs the works of Mendelssohn. The composer certainly knew how to spin a memorable tune. By the same token, he successfully incorporated and, indeed, built upon the various formal designs of his predecessors, i.e., Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven. To those of Mendelssohn’s generation, the string quartet embodied the apex of pure musical expression, unencumbered by any extraneous distractions; music distilled to its pure essentials, so to speak. This is the initial volume in a series devoted to the complete string quartets of the composer featuring the Escher Quartet who derive their name from the enigmatic Dutch artist, M.C. Escher. Volume 1 features an early, unpublished effort, flanked by 2 mature works. The members of the Escher do an excellent job in mining the many virtues of this important, transitional music. They play with measured fervor and nuance. Ensemble, intonation, balance and overall tone production are of a high order. Since its initial release, some years back, the Emerson’s traversal of the complete Mendelssohn string quartets has been one of the standard versions. Interestingly enough, it was the Emerson Quartet who encouraged and lobbied on behalf of the Escher in their quest for international recognition. Based upon this initial release, the Emerson may be headed for some serious competition. The sound engineering, especially in its Super Audio format, is three dimensional and extremely lifelike. The liner notes are insightful and very well written.