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Mendelssohn: Complete String Quartets / Pacifica Quartet


Release Date: 04/26/2005 
Label:  Cedille Records   Catalog #: 82   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Felix Mendelssohn
Performer:  Simin GanatraMasumi Per RostadSibbi BernhardssohnBrandon Vamos
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Pacifica String Quartet
Number of Discs: 3 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 3 Hours 34 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews


Hard on the heels of acclaimed versions by the Talich and Emerson quartets, here's yet another set of the complete Mendelssohn String Quartets. This one's from a young foursome on a small label, so many collectors might be tempted to pass it by. If they do, they'll be making a huge mistake, for on my scorecard at least, the Pacifica Quartet goes right to the top of the list in a dead heat with the Talich.


They share several important characteristics with the Czech players, not least among them a big, warm sound--wonderfully well blended, rounded, and full--that's a pleasant surprise from an American group whose peers tend toward timbral leanness (witness the Emersons in this
Read more same repertoire). The Mendelssohn quartets, especially the earlier ones, emphasize the first violin's role, and Simin Ganatra makes her every solo and leading part telling, thanks to her lovely timbre and virtuosic fluency. Another component of the ensemble's signature sound is the prominence of the lower voices--cello and viola--which brings both warmth and detail to its readings. In part, the outstanding engineering also can be credited, since many quartet recordings tend to slight lower and interior voices. But to say these tonal attributes make the Pacifica sound "Old World" would be a mistake, because they fuse their warm tone and humane musicality to abundant energy, as all great ensembles inevitably must, wherever they come from.


The Talich Quartet's Mendelssohn set similarly fuses warmth with energy, offering performances a bit more tightly coiled than the Pacifica's--not necessarily better, just different. So the Talich's Scherzo of Op. 44 No. 2 seems just that much fleeter and more airborne than the Pacifica's, and outer movements elsewhere tend to be marginally faster and more incisive. But such comparisons are not pejorative; they're descriptive, and both ensembles meet the test of great performances--while we're listening to them, it's hard to imagine the music being played any differently.


The Pacifica lends an appropriately Haydnesque quality to the early E-flat major quartet of 1823, a gem by the 14-year-old student, effectively differentiating this from the later quartets and their movements. So the scurrying strings in Mendelssohn's Midsummer Night mode that often occur in his quartet scherzo movements are all aptly characterized. Slow movements, like the soulful Andante of Op. 44 No. 2 and the poignant Adagio of the great Op. 80, make their effect without dragging or lingering. And the Pacifica's rhythmic acuity and command of dynamic gradations help make the big first movements--from the crisp, restless dislocations of Op. 80's Allegro vivace to the exuberant Molto allegro vivace of Op. 44 No. 1--tense and thrilling. The same attributes can be heard throughout in the fast final movements, which can tax any ensemble's powers of articulation and virtuosity.


Sonics are just about perfect--tonally accurate, well-blended and balanced, with the vivid presence that makes you feel these magnificent players are in the room with you. At three discs for the price of two, this Cedille release is something of a bargain as well. To sum this set up in two words: "Buy it". [4/23/2005]
--Dan Davis, ClassicsToday.com Read less

Works on This Recording

1.
Quartet for Strings in E flat major by Felix Mendelssohn
Performer:  Simin Ganatra (Violin), Masumi Per Rostad (Viola), Sibbi Bernhardssohn (Violin),
Brandon Vamos (Cello)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Pacifica String Quartet
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1823; Germany 
Length: 25 Minutes 16 Secs. 
Notes: Pick-Staiger Concert Hall, Evanston, IL (12/2002); Pick-Staiger Concert Hall, Evanston, IL (10/2003); Pick-Staiger Concert Hall, Evanston, IL (03/2004 - 06/2004) 
2.
Quartet for Strings no 1 in E flat major, Op. 12 by Felix Mendelssohn
Performer:  Sibbi Bernhardssohn (Violin), Masumi Per Rostad (Viola), Brandon Vamos (Cello),
Simin Ganatra (Violin)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Pacifica String Quartet
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1829; Germany 
Length: 23 Minutes 41 Secs. 
Notes: Pick-Staiger Concert Hall, Evanston, IL (12/2002); Pick-Staiger Concert Hall, Evanston, IL (10/2003); Pick-Staiger Concert Hall, Evanston, IL (03/2004 - 06/2004) 
3.
Quartet for Strings no 6 in F minor, Op. 80 by Felix Mendelssohn
Performer:  Simin Ganatra (Violin), Brandon Vamos (Cello), Sibbi Bernhardssohn (Violin),
Masumi Per Rostad (Viola)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Pacifica String Quartet
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1847; Germany 
Length: 25 Minutes 35 Secs. 
Notes: Pick-Staiger Concert Hall, Evanston, IL (12/2002); Pick-Staiger Concert Hall, Evanston, IL (10/2003); Pick-Staiger Concert Hall, Evanston, IL (03/2004 - 06/2004) 
4.
Quartet for Strings no 2 in A minor, Op. 13 by Felix Mendelssohn
Performer:  Simin Ganatra (Violin), Brandon Vamos (Cello), Sibbi Bernhardssohn (Violin),
Masumi Per Rostad (Viola)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Pacifica String Quartet
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1827; Germany 
Length: 30 Minutes 35 Secs. 
Notes: Pick-Staiger Concert Hall, Evanston, IL (12/2002); Pick-Staiger Concert Hall, Evanston, IL (10/2003); Pick-Staiger Concert Hall, Evanston, IL (03/2004 - 06/2004) 
5.
Pieces (4) for String Quartet, Op. 81 by Felix Mendelssohn
Performer:  Simin Ganatra (Violin), Brandon Vamos (Cello), Masumi Per Rostad (Viola),
Sibbi Bernhardssohn (Violin)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Pacifica String Quartet
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1827-1847; Germany 
Length: 21 Minutes 11 Secs. 
Notes: Pick-Staiger Concert Hall, Evanston, IL (12/2002); Pick-Staiger Concert Hall, Evanston, IL (10/2003); Pick-Staiger Concert Hall, Evanston, IL (03/2004 - 06/2004) 
6.
Quartet for Strings no 3 in D major, Op. 44 no 1 by Felix Mendelssohn
Performer:  Simin Ganatra (Violin), Brandon Vamos (Cello), Masumi Per Rostad (Viola),
Sibbi Bernhardssohn (Violin)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Pacifica String Quartet
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1838; Germany 
Length: 28 Minutes 39 Secs. 
Notes: Pick-Staiger Concert Hall, Evanston, IL (12/2002); Pick-Staiger Concert Hall, Evanston, IL (10/2003); Pick-Staiger Concert Hall, Evanston, IL (03/2004 - 06/2004) 
7.
Quartet for Strings no 4 in E minor, Op. 44 no 2 by Felix Mendelssohn
Performer:  Brandon Vamos (Cello), Sibbi Bernhardssohn (Violin), Simin Ganatra (Violin),
Masumi Per Rostad (Viola)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Pacifica String Quartet
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1837; Germany 
Length: 27 Minutes 29 Secs. 
Notes: Pick-Staiger Concert Hall, Evanston, IL (12/2002); Pick-Staiger Concert Hall, Evanston, IL (10/2003); Pick-Staiger Concert Hall, Evanston, IL (03/2004 - 06/2004) 
8.
Quartet for Strings no 5 in E flat major, Op. 44 no 3 by Felix Mendelssohn
Performer:  Masumi Per Rostad (Viola), Brandon Vamos (Cello), Simin Ganatra (Violin),
Sibbi Bernhardssohn (Violin)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Pacifica String Quartet
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1838; Germany 
Length: 30 Minutes 14 Secs. 
Notes: Pick-Staiger Concert Hall, Evanston, IL (12/2002); Pick-Staiger Concert Hall, Evanston, IL (10/2003); Pick-Staiger Concert Hall, Evanston, IL (03/2004 - 06/2004) 

Sound Samples

String Quartet in E flat major: I. Allegro moderato
String Quartet in E flat major: II. Adagio non troppo
String Quartet in E flat major: III. Minuetto
String Quartet in E flat major: IV. Fuga
String Quartet No. 1 in E flat major, Op. 12: I. Adagio non troppo: Allegro non tardante
String Quartet No. 1 in E flat major, Op. 12: II. Canzonetta: Allegretto
String Quartet No. 1 in E flat major, Op. 12: III. Andante espressivo
String Quartet No. 1 in E flat major, Op. 12: IV. Molto Allegro e vivace
String Quartet No. 6 in F minor, Op. 80: I. Allegro vivace assai
String Quartet No. 6 in F minor, Op. 80: II. Allegro assai
String Quartet No. 6 in F minor, Op. 80: III. Adagio
String Quartet No. 6 in F minor, Op. 80: IV. Finale: Allegro molto
String Quartet No. 2 in A minor, Op. 13: I. Adagio: Allegro vivace
String Quartet No. 2 in A minor, Op. 13: II. Adagio non lento
String Quartet No. 2 in A minor, Op. 13: III. Intermezzo: Allegro con moto
String Quartet No. 2 in A minor, Op. 13: IV. Presto
String Quartet No. 3 in D major, Op. 44, No. 1: I. Molto Allegro vivace
String Quartet No. 3 in D major, Op. 44, No. 1: II. Menuetto: Un poco Allegretto
String Quartet No. 3 in D major, Op. 44, No. 1: III. Andante espressivo ma con moto
String Quartet No. 3 in D major, Op. 44, No. 1: IV. Presto con brio

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