Mendelssohn: String Quartets Nos. 5 & 6

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Mendelssohn: String Quartets Nos. 5 & 6


BBC Music Magazine

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Release date:

30th Sept 2016




71 minutes


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Mendelssohn: String Quartets Nos. 5 & 6


String Quartet No. 5 in E flat major, Op. 44 No. 3

String Quartet No. 6 in F minor, Op. 80

Capriccio in E minor, Op. 81 No. 3

Fugue in E flat major, Op. 81 No. 4

Escher String Quartet



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The Escher Quartet opened their traversal of Mendelssohn’s string quartets with the first and the fourth quartets, along with an unnumbered early work in E flat major, on a disc which the reviewer in The Strad summed up as a ‘A deeply rewarding release … and by any standards a distinguished one’. The same magazine made the sequel – with the second and third quartets – its recommendation in the November issue of 2015. On the third and final disc in the series, time has come for the two last quartets, as well as the Capriccio and Fugue from the Op. 81 set of Four Pieces for String Quartet begun on the previous instalment. The String Quartet No. 5 in E flat major belongs to the three quartets composed in 1837-38 as Op. 44 and is often considered a masterpiece of the genre. Ever modest, Mendelssohn himself recommended the set to his friend, the pianist Ignaz Moscheles, with the words: ‘there are one or two amongst them I am pleased with myself, and I should like to know that I am right, and that you too are satisfied with them’. Published posthumously, the Quartet No. 6 in F minor, Op. 80 holds a special place in Mendelssohn’s list of works: not only is it one of his very last compositions, but the breath-taking work is the direct and heartfelt response to the unexpected death of his beloved sister Fanny. ‘The impassioned character of the entire work seems to me to be in keeping with his [Mendelssohn’s] profoundly unsettled state of mind’, Moscheles noted in his diary after having heard the quartet at the composer’s home on 5th October 1847. A month later, after suffering a number of strokes, Mendelssohn died.

Felix Mendelssohn: String Quartet No. 5 in E-Flat Major, Op. 44 No. 3, MWV R 28

I. Allegro vivace

II. Scherzo: Assai leggiero vivace

III. Adagio non troppo

IV. Molto Allegro con fuoco

Felix Mendelssohn: 4 Pieces for String Quartet, Op. 81

Capriccio in E Minor, Op. 81, No. 3, MWV R32

Fugue in E-Flat Major, Op. 81, No. 4

Felix Mendelssohn: String Quartet No. 6 in F Minor, Op. 80, MWV R 37

I. Allegro vivace assai

II. Allegro assai

III. Adagio

IV. Finale: Allegro molto

The Guardian

8th September 2016


“fabulous unanimity, tonal warmth and care over detail...All the performances are very fine, but the Escher’s account of Op 81 is truly exceptional, driven by an intensity, and a scarcely concealed rage, that grips the music from the thrilling opening of the first movement and never slackens throughout.”

BBC Music Magazine

Christmas 2016


“The E flat major is given a bright and tender account, with balances judged finely, whether between the instruments or between the myriad emotions that flash through its fizzing duration…the Escher Quartet’s playing [in the F minor] is full of propulsive intensity that never stints on anguish, but they manage to keep their lightness of touch, letting the music make its points with swift, pure directness…a wonderful disc”

Gramophone Magazine

December 2016

“They combine highly disciplined playing, communicative warmth and a clear empathy for the composer in hand…it is impossible not to be impressed by the verve and precision with which the Escher launch into the last quartet…the Capriccio has a real lilt, while the Fugue possesses tremendous clarity and a sense of reactivity between the players”

MusicWeb International

14th December 2016

“Highly accomplished playing, captured with stunning immediacy.”

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