Sunday, March 12, 2017

Felix Mendelssohn - String Quartets Nos. 3, 4 & 5 (Talich Quartet)


Information

Composer: Felix Mendelssohn
  1. String Quartet No. 3 in D major, Op. 44 No. 1: I. Molto allegro vivace
  2. String Quartet No. 3 in D major, Op. 44 No. 1: II. Menuetto: un poco allegretto
  3. String Quartet No. 3 in D major, Op. 44 No. 1: III. Andante espressivo ma con moto
  4. String Quartet No. 3 in D major, Op. 44 No. 1: IV. Presto con brio
  5. String Quartet No. 4 in E minor, Op. 44 No. 2: I. Allegro assai appassionato
  6. String Quartet No. 4 in E minor, Op. 44 No. 2: II. Scherzo: Allegro di molto
  7. String Quartet No. 4 in E minor, Op. 44 No. 2: III. Andante
  8. String Quartet No. 4 in E minor, Op. 44 No. 2: IV. Presto agitato
  9. String Quartet No. 5 in E flat major, Op. 44 No. 3: I. Allegro vivace
  10. String Quartet No. 5 in E flat major, Op. 44 No. 3: II. Scherzo: Assai leggiero vivace
  11. String Quartet No. 5 in E flat major, Op. 44 No. 3: III. Adagio non troppo
  12. String Quartet No. 5 in E flat major, Op. 44 No. 3: IV. Molto allegro con fuoco

Talich Quartet
Jan Talich Jr, violin I
Petr Maceček, violin II
Vladimír Bukač, viola
Petr Prause, cello

Date: 2014
Label: La dolce volta (orginal recorded by Calliope, 2000)
http://www.ladolcevolta.com/album-music/mendelssohn-3-quatuors-op-44/?lang=en

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Review

Here is a set of brilliant but not dazzling performances of Mendelssohn’s Op 44 Quartets: that is to say, they illuminate the music but never blind the listener with empty demonstration of the players’ virtuosity. Certainly the speeds are fast, but the fingerwork is so deft and the textures (helped by excellent recording) so lucid that everything Mendelssohn asks for is clear. Of the three works in this marvellous set, it is the third, in E flat (No 5), which stands highest, with one of the finest of all his first movements and an Adagio of a pensiveness that the players reflect in their just tempo and in the slight greying of their tone. The scherzo and the finale (Allegro con fuoco) are classic examples of how the rigorous contrapuntal teaching which Mendelssohn received in his youth from old Carl Zelter gave him the technique for music of not merely pace but of the wit and ingenuity that comes from real cleverness. It is music to enliven the spirit, and so is this performance of it.

The quartet’s sense of tempo serves them well in the D major Quartet, Mendelssohn’s own favourite, with a Menuetto whose harmonic originality encourages a certain wistfulness in the playing, and in the E minor Quartet with an Andante that keeps gently moving (Mendelssohn particularly marked it nicht schleppend, ‘not dragging’). One might regret that none of the first movement repeats are observed, but as there is already 80 minutes’ music here, such a complaint would be unreasonable. Included in the booklet is a long, excellent historical and descriptive note by Alain Patrick Olivier, which has been translated (as is notoriously not always the case) into good English prose. Altogether an outstanding issue.

-- Gramophone

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Felix Mendelssohn (3 February 1809 – 4 November 1847) was a German composer, pianist, organist and conductor of the early Romantic period. He was among the most popular composers of the Romantic era. Like Mozart, he was recognized early as a musical prodigy. Mendelssohn enjoyed early success in Germany, where he also revived interest in the music of Johann Sebastian Bach, and in his travels throughout Europe. He was particularly well received in Britain as a composer, conductor and soloist, visited there ten times. His essentially conservative musical tastes, however, set him apart from many of his more adventurous musical contemporaries.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Felix_Mendelssohn

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The Talich Quartet is a Czech string quartet founded in 1964 by Jan Talich, Sr. (born 1945) while still a student at Prague Conservatory, and named after his famous uncle Václav Talich, the conductor and founder of the Czech Philharmonic. Specializing in works by Czech composers, they have premièred works by Viktor Kalabis, Luboš Fišer and Luboš Sluka. They made many records for Calliope and at least one with Collins Classics, and won several Grand Prix du Disque and Diapason d'or awards.

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