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“The Emerson's sharp ear for textural detail ensures that we hear clearly every felicity of Mendelssohn's scoring, including those characteristic dark shafts of viola colour. ” BBC Music Magazine, May 2005 ****
“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.” Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010
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Over the last decades recordings by Quatuor Mosaïques of the string quartets of Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven, amongst others, have been considered by many critics to be benchmarks as far as performance is concerned. For the first time five CDs that represent some of the best of these have been gathered together in a set. The music includes Haydn’s opus 77, Mozart’s K464 and 465, Beethoven’s opus 18 nos. 1 and 4, Schubert’s D879 and 804, and Mendelssohn’s opus 12 and 13.
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Alban Berg Quartett - Hommage
String Quartet No. 4, Sz 91
String Quartet No. 16 in F major, Op. 135
Lyric Suite - for string quartet (1926)
String Quartet, Op. 3
String Quartet No. 2 in A minor, Op. 51 No. 2
String Quartet, Op. 76 No. 3 in C major 'Emperor'
String Quartet in F major, Op. 3 No. 5 (formerly attrib. J. Haydn) : Andante cantabile
String Quartet No. 2 'Intimate Letters'
Marien, Op. 143
Die Werber Op. 103
String Quartet No. 2 in A minor, Op. 13
String Quartet No. 20 in D major, K499 'Hoffmeister'
String Quartet No. 15 in D minor, K421
String Quartet in F major
String Quartet No. 4 (1980/81)
String Quartet No. 15 in G Major, D887
String Quartet No. 1 in E minor 'From My Life'
Strauss, J, I:
Wiener Gemüths-Walzer, Op. 116
Double Canon (Raoul Dufy in memoriam)
“A marvellous tribute to the Alban Berg Quartet's huge recording legacy featuring wonderful performances of the Viennese classics, together with a brilliantly executed Bartók No. 4 and a classic Berg Lyric Suite.” BBC Music Magazine, July 2008 *****
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Mendelssohn: Complete String Quartets, Quintets, Sextet & Octet
Probably no composer other than Mozart displayed such a prodigious talent in childhood as that displayed by the young Mendelssohn. His early flowering genius made him something of a phenomenon, and this saw his stature in adulthood rise to equal (rightly so) that of the greats - Bach, Beethoven and of course Mozart. This was followed by the inevitable decline in reputation - his comfortable upper middle class upbringing in a Berlin banking family, that included philosopher Moses Mendelssohn hardly fitted the late 19th century image of the struggling and tortured soul of the romantic artist.
The effects of perversions of the Nazi German regime which banned his music as he was a Jew almost sealed his fate apart from the affection held by performers for a handful of his works. But Mendelssohn is so much more than the composer of the Scottish and Italian Symphonies, the Violin Concerto and the oratorio Elijah. The chamber music reveals not only his youthful precociousness as heard in the Octet composed at the age of 16 and a work of pure genius - but also in the sextet which ranks only a little behind its famous sibling for sheer bravura and craftsmanship.The string quartets are seriously underrated works, and show Mendelssohn’s deep appreciation of Beethoven’s quartets. These are masterful works that repay closer acquaintance.
Mendelssohn today is rightfully considered one of the great composers and the works in this 6CD set get right to the heart and soul of a man over-praised during his life and for too long under-appreciated in death.
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