, January 2009
MENDELSSOHN: String Quartets Nos. 1 and 4 / Quartet in E Flat Major 8.550862
MENDELSSOHN: String Quartets Nos. 2 and 5 / Scherzo Op. 81, No. 2 8.550863
MENDELSSOHN: String Quartets Nos. 3 and 6 / Capriccio Op. 81, No. 3 8.550861
At Naxos price, the new Aurora set of Mendelssohn’s complete music for string quartet is a genuine bargain. The performances have a natural Mendelssohnian charm and elegance, but their strength and passion acknowledge the fact that the young composer in his teens wrote them under the influence of the Beethoven quartets. Indeed, the account of the F minor work, composed after his sister Fanny’s death, is perhaps the highlight of the set. The Allegros are full of passionate angst and the Adagio expresses the composer’s pain. The engaging early E flat Quartet of 1823, with its confident closing Fuga, written when the composer was only fourteen, is included, together with the four varied pieces of Op. 81—notably the delightful Scherzo in A minor, here as light as thistledown. Slow movements throughout are beautifully shaped and played with warmth and feeling, never sentimentalized; Scherzi always sparkle; Allegros have vivacity and bite. The recording is first class.