One of the most grown-up review sites around
One of the most grown-up review sites around

Search MusicWeb Here
 

 

International mailing

Up to 40% off

  Founder: Len Mullenger

CD REVIEW



Some items
to consider

  • Henze Kammermusik 1958
  • Mozart Flute Quartets
  • Schubert complete piano works
  • Sammartini: 6 Concerti grossi
  • Henze Kammermusik 1958
 
Tudor



CD and Blue-ray Audio


CD and Blue-ray Audio


CPE Bach Cantatas
a revelation


Biber: Sacred Choral Works
Don't miss it


Jonathan Dove


Tommie Haglund
Unique and Powerful music


Organ Fireworks


Highly Entertaining


A triumphant performance


Bruckner Symphony 4
One of the finest I have heard


A most joy-inducing recording


A winning partnership


A Lohengrin to treasure.

 

 


 

 

Felix MENDELSSOHN (1809-1847)
String Quartet in A minor, Op. 13 (1827) [31:08]
String Quartet in D major, Op. 44 No. 1 (1838) [32:32]
Fugue in E flat major, Op. 81 No. 4 (1827) [5:34]
Pro Arte Quartet
rec. 20-21 December 2004, Mills Hall, Madison, Wisconsin
UW-MADISON SCHOOL OF MUSIC 1931569-12-6 [70:14] 

There are strong grounds for taking the view that the best of Mendelssohn is to be found in the chamber music. Anyone wanting to put this contention to the proof could do no better than investigate the string quartets and specifically this attractive disc, since it contains performances conveying such skill and understanding. 

Of the two works featured here, the relatively early A minor Quartet is perhaps the finer, though both find the composer at the height of his powers. And what powers they are, for the young Mendelssohn remains the world's greatest-ever creative prodigy, surpassing even Mozart. In their performance the Pro Arte play admirably and are captured in pleasing recorded sound. For comparison, the Vellinger Quartet on ASV (CD QS 6236) play immaculately also, but perhaps with greater expressive freedom. At the same time their attention to detail in matters of dynamic nuance brings much reward too: this is quartet playing of the highest order. 

In either performance, in the A minor Quartet Mendelssohn scores on every count. The melodic invention is inspired, but the formal command is strong and the overall vision is hugely imaginative. Nowhere is this more so than in the finaleís closing phase, when we move into unexpected regions, in which the musicís vision is nothing short of extraordinary. Anyone who thinks that Mendelssohn has a restricted range of expression should listen to this. 

The three quartets of Mendelssohn's Op. 44 date from 1837-38, and they all continue the classical tradition of four movements. However, in each case he opts for the less conventional placing of the slow movement third. If anything the D major Quartet, Op. 44 No. 1, has more of those characteristic quicksilver rhythms than the other music on this CD. Be that as it may, this is an entertaining performance, though the recorded sound has less bloom than in Op. 13. On balance the performance by the Henschel Quartet on Arte Nova is a least a match for the Pro Arte (who also include Op. 44 No. 2 and the complete Op. 81), but preferences may come down to couplings, since either version is perfectly satisfactory.

The posthumous collection of four pieces collected as Op. 81 was not intended as a unified composition and was composed over a span of many years. In fact the Fugue of 1827 came very much first, although the opus number suggests it dates from the last years of Mendelssohnís life. The Pro Arte Quartet perform it with accuracy and with feeling. 

Terry Barfoot 

 

 

 


Gerard Hoffnung CDs

Advertising on
Musicweb



Donate and get a free CD

 

New Releases

Naxos Classical



Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable
(THE Polish label)
Altus 10% off
Atoll 10% off
CRD 10% off
Hallé 10% off
Lyrita 10% off
Nimbus 10% off
Nimbus Alliance
Prima voce 10% off
Red Priest 10% off
Retrospective 10% off
Saydisc 10% off
Sterling 10% off


Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing
sample

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
   
Rob Barnett
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
Editor in Chief
   Vacant
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger
 

Return to Review Index

Untitled Document


Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.