One of the most grown-up review sites around

54,928 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here



International mailing

Founder: Len Mullenger                                    Editor in Chief:John Quinn             

Some items
to consider


paid for

Acte Prealable Polish recordings

Forgotten Recordings
Forgotten Recordings
All Forgotten Records Reviews

Troubadisc Weinberg- TROCD01450

100th birthday of Mieczyslaw Weinberg on December 8, 2019.
Renate Eggbrecht has recorded all 3 violin Sonatas
All Troubadisc reviews

FOGHORN Classics

Brahms String Quartets

All Foghorn Reviews

All HDTT reviews

Salon Treasures from the Max Jaffa Library



Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Contributing Editor
Ralph Moore
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger


Discs for review may be sent to:
Jonathan Woolf
76 Lushes Road
Essex IG10 3QB
United Kingdom



Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical
All Naxos reviews

Chandos recordings
All Chandos reviews

Hyperion recordings
All Hyperion reviews

Foghorn recordings
All Foghorn reviews

Troubadisc recordings
All Troubadisc reviews

all Bridge reviews

all cpo reviews

Divine Art recordings
Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10
All Divine Art reviews

Eloquence recordings
All Eloquence reviews

Lyrita recordings
All Lyrita Reviews


Wyastone New Releases
Obtain 10% discount

Recordings of the Month

July 2022

John Luther Adams Houses of the Wind
John Luther Adams
Houses of the Wind

Horneman Alladin
Horneman Alladin

Stojowski piano concertos
Piano Concertos 1 & 2

Vaughan Williams on Brass

Yi Lin Jiang - Dualis I

June 2022

Beethoven Sonatas 29, 32

Orchestral Works

String Quartets Vol 1




CD: AmazonUK AmazonUS
Download: Classicsonline

Felix MENDELSSOHN (1809 - 1847)
String Quartet No. 2 in A major, Op. 13 (1827) [32:12]
String Quartet No. 1 in E flat major, Op. 12 (1829) [27:07]
Gabrieli String Quartet
rec. Church of St Silas, Kentish Town, London NW5, 18-19 September 1989
CHANDOS CHAN10534X [59:32]
Experience Classicsonline

Although the present quartets are Mendelssohn’s official first two quartets, he had in fact written an earlier quartet in 1823 when he was fourteen. But these two are also the work of a young man. He wrote the A major when he was eighteen and had just left his teens when he wrote the E flat major. The numbering only indicates that they were published in reversed order.

We tend to regard Mendelssohn as a rather light-hearted composer, free from brooding in the Beethovenian manner. Many of his compositions are light and airy. His Italian symphony is a good example and not only in his music for A Midsummer Night’s Dream do we find elves dancing - mysticism in early romantic spirit - but not soul-searching. Maybe he doesn’t reveal his innermost thoughts and feelings in the A major quartet either but at least one can believe that he doesn’t only skim the surface, that he is touched by some deeper experience.

The inward opening adagio is like a soft invitation to the listener to share his feelings and towards the end he introduces a motto, a three-note phrase (C sharp, B, D), which is a quotation from his song Frage, Op. 9 No. 1. The poem, by Johann Heinrich Voss, says: ‘Ist es wahr, dass du stets dort in dem Laubgang, an der Weinwand meiner harrst?’ (Is it true that you are waiting for me in the arbour by the vine-clad wall?). The agitated allegro vivace with ist dotted rhythm that follows, seems to reveal conflicting feelings. One can’t avoid relating to Goethe’s young Werther.

The second movement is peaceful and it seems that the storm has abated, and in the intermezzo he is totally relaxed so that the elves come out in the central adagio di molto and dance a feather-light scherzo.

But the presto finale finds Mendelssohn in uncommonly agitated mood. Whether this is autobiographical or not, whether he is a poseur or not is irrelevant, but he manages to express an internal combat that is deeply captivating. Then in the slow coda, adagio non lento, the motto from the beginning returns, this time complemented with a longer quotation from the song. And doesn’t it seem that the calm that spreads in the music isn’t just resignation but the result of a positive answer to the question? I hadn’t heard this quartet before, but I was so fascinated by it that I played it three times in a row. It will certainly be added to my short list of favourite chamber music works.

The E flat major quartet was more well known territory, and even though storms are raging even here, they are slightly more subdued. It is lovely music throughout and the canzonetta is probably the singular best known chamber music movement in Mendelssohn’s output, often played as an encore.

The Gabrieli String Quartet has been one of the leading quartet ensembles in the world for several decades and have always made great impact through their nuanced playing. This disc is no exception. The contrasting feelings of the A major quartet are very well brought out and their intonation is to my ears impeccable. I have no other recording of this quartet available but the E flat major I have on a Naxos disc with the American Aurora Quartet. What first struck me was the more immediate recording on the Naxos disc - for good or bad. The players are more upfront and the effect is playing with more punch. The Gabrieli, recorded in a London church, are at some distance but there is no lack of clarity and the sound is very integrated. The Aurora throughout choose brisker tempi, and in the canzonetta this is all gain. The Gabrieli are more staid and seem to lack adrenalin. On the other hand the Aurora lack some of the sophistication, there is less light and shade in their reading. I am not saying that they are prosaic, and their straightforwardness is utterly refreshing. Having lived with their recording for at least ten years I feel fully in tune with them and I would guess that newcomers to the quartet - especially if they are relative newcomers to quartet music at large - may well find the Aurora more thrilling. I am glad to have both discs and the Chandos reissue is certainly attractive, especially at around a fiver.

Göran Forsling


Making a Donation to MusicWeb

Writing CD reviews for MWI

About MWI
Who we are, where we have come from and how we do it.

Site Map

How to find a review

How to find articles on MusicWeb
Listed in date order

Review Indexes
   By Label
      Select a label and all reviews are listed in Catalogue order
   By Masterwork
            Links from composer names (eg Sibelius) are to resource pages with links to the review indexes for the individual works as well as other resources.

Themed Review pages

Jazz reviews


      Composer surveys
      Unique to MusicWeb -
a comprehensive listing of all LP and CD recordings of given works
Prepared by Michael Herman

The Collector’s Guide to Gramophone Company Record Labels 1898 - 1925
Howard Friedman

Book Reviews

Complete Books
We have a number of out of print complete books on-line

With Composers, Conductors, Singers, Instumentalists and others
Includes those on the Seen and Heard site


Nostalgia CD reviews

Records Of The Year
Each reviewer is given the opportunity to select the best of the releases

Monthly Best Buys
Recordings of the Month and Bargains of the Month

Arthur Butterworth Writes

An occasional column

Phil Scowcroft's Garlands
British Light Music articles

Classical blogs
A listing of Classical Music Blogs external to MusicWeb International

Reviewers Logs
What they have been listening to for pleasure



Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Pat and present

Helpers invited!

How Did I Miss That?

Currently suspended but there are a lot there with sound clips

Composer Resources

British Composers

British Light Music Composers

Other composers

Film Music (Archive)
Film Music on the Web (Closed in December 2006)

Programme Notes
For concert organizers

External sites
British Music Society
The BBC Proms
Orchestra Sites
Recording Companies & Retailers
Online Music
Agents & Marketing
Other links
Web News sites etc

A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
Site History  
What they say about us
What we say about us!
Where to get help on the Internet
CD orders By Special Request
Graphics archive
Currency Converter
Web Ring
Translation Service

Rules for potential reviewers :-)
Do Not Go Here!
April Fools

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.