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CD Review

Felix Mendelssohn

Complete String Quartets, Octet, etc.

  • Quartet for Strings in E Flat Major
  • Quartet for Strings #1 in E Flat Major, Op. 12
  • Quartet for Strings #2 in A minor, Op. 13
  • Quartet for Strings #3 in D Major, Op. 44/ 1
  • Quartet for Strings #4 in E minor, Op. 44/ 2
  • Quartet for Strings #5 in E Flat Major, Op. 44/ 3
  • Quartet for Strings #6 in F minor, Op. 80
  • Andante, Scherzo, Capriccio & Fugue, Op. 81
  • Octet for Strings in E Flat Major, Op. 20 *
  • Symphony #1 in C minor, Op. 11 **
  • Symphony #5 in D Major "Reformation", Op. 107 **
  • Hebrides Overture, Op. 26 **
  • Ruy Blas Overture, Op. 95 **
Leipzig String Quartet
* Matthias Wollong & Yamei Yu, violin
* Hartmut Rohde, viola
* Michael Sanderling, cello
** Gerard Fauth & Olga Gollej, piano
** Andreas Seidel, violin
** Matthias Moosdorf, cello
Dabringhaus & Grimm MDG3071571-2 5CDs 300m DDD
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This delightful box set contains the whole gamut of Mendelssohn's string quartets as well as the Octet and a highly interesting selection of orchestral works transcribed for chamber instruments.

The Leipzig String Quartet play with unabashed virtuosity in the quartets bringing panache and vigour all around especially in the later, Op. 80 and the 1823 quartet which contains some of the most sublime music Mendelssohn ever wrote.

The Octet is also given an excellent interpretation although I still have fine memories of the Vienna Octet's version which to my mind remains unsurpassed although this band from Leipzig run it pretty close.

Finally we have a revelatory disc where the Leipzig players treat a number of famous orchestral works arranged for piano 4-hands, violin and cello, and the result is more than successful. I was simply bowled over by the nobility and spine tingling religiosity achieved in the "Reformation" Symphony, one of my favourite works (arranged by Friedrich Herrmann). The two overtures (arranged by Carl Buchard) also come to life in quite an uncanny manner whilst the First Symphony (arranged by Mendelssohn) is also admirably suited for piano and string quintet.

MD&G's recordings are top drawer quality as always and the box presentation is superb with highly informative notes and a beautifully suited front cover painting. If you are looking for some top quality chamber performances in the composer's anniversary year then this set is truly a must buy.

Copyright © 2009, Gerald Fenech