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Mendelssohn: Quartets Nos. 1 & 4 / Escher String Quartet

Release Date: 06/09/2015 
Label:  Bis   Catalog #: 1960   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Felix Mendelssohn
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Escher String Quartet
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Mixed 
Length: 1 Hours 20 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Founded in 2005, the Escher String Quartet is still a young ensemble as string quartets go. It has nevertheless become established as one of the most exciting quartets around, both in its home country, the U.S.A., and elsewhere, recently being shortlisted for a BBC Music Magazine Award. With their début disc on BIS, the Eschers launch a three-disc cycle of Mendelssohn’s string quartets, including the unnumbered String Quartet in E flat major and – on coming instalments – the four pieces for string quartet Op.81.


This is full-blooded quartet playing in the grand, classic manner; extrovert and eloquent. Rich tone, good balance and a particularly noteworthy expressiveness from the first violin, Adam
Read more Barnett-Hart, who offers that rare ability not only to sing but also to speak through the instrument.

– BBC Music Magazine

The Escher are fervent advocates of the E flat Quartet, imbuing the slow movement with a luxuriant warmth. There's no doubting the players' musicianship or technical ability, which are caught with admirable immediacy.


The Eschers sound warm, relaxed and responsive to all of Mendelssohn’s expressive nuances. They lavish full, red-blooded tone on the slow movement of the genial Quartet No 1, and in the restless Quartet No 4 they keep the momentum striving forward, with first violinist Adam Barnett-Hart spinning long, seamless phrases.

– Guardian (UK) Read less

Works on This Recording

Quartet for Strings no 1 in E flat major, Op. 12 by Felix Mendelssohn
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Escher String Quartet
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1829; Germany 
Date of Recording: 04/2014 
Venue:  Potton Hall, Suffolk, England 
Length: 24 Minutes 17 Secs. 
Quartet for Strings in E flat major by Felix Mendelssohn
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Escher String Quartet
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1823; Germany 
Date of Recording: 04/2014 
Venue:  Potton Hall, Suffolk, England 
Length: 27 Minutes 30 Secs. 
Quartet for Strings no 4 in E minor, Op. 44 no 2 by Felix Mendelssohn
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Escher String Quartet
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1837; Germany 
Date of Recording: 04/2014 
Venue:  Potton Hall, Suffolk, England 
Length: 27 Minutes 37 Secs. 

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  1 Customer Review )
 Energetically played music from Mendelssohn! October 7, 2015 By Warren Harris See All My Reviews "This CD consists of 3 string quartets writeen by Felix Mendelssohn and performed by the excellent and driven Escher String Quartet. String Quartet #1 in E-flat Major, Op. 12, is not the first String Quartet that Mendelssohn wrote, despite the nomenclature. More details on this are found in the well-written and informative liner notes. But musically, the first movement is so characteristically Mendelssohnion in both its development and rhythmic patterns that the Allegretto 2nd movement seems naturally energetic and almost nobly spritely. The 3rd movement, Andante espressivo, is most certainly expressive and heartfelt as performed by the Escher, and the way they bring this section to life just seems “right”. The 4th movement brings this piece to a gentle close. The 2nd piece is the earliest piece written, the Quartet in E-flat Major MWV R18. The 2nd movement I found particularly captivating, between the marvelous descent into the lower register and the sweetness of the violin shortly thereafter. This is not to say that there is anything wrong with the Minuetto 3rd movement, that just warmly makes itself intellectually felt. And the 4th movement “Fuga” is just delightful. The last piece on this recording is the Quartet in E minor, Op. 44, No. 2. The 1st movement is filled with frenetic energy, requiring deft timing and teamed virtuosity from the Escher Quartet, and they show that they are most definitely up to the task. It is also clear from the 3rd movement that gentle and driven sonorities are something that this group also does well, as the give and take in this movement is gorgeously presented here. And the 4th movement is filled with frenetic energy as called for by the composer, the kind of playing that is guaranteed to have a live audience on the edge of their seats. This is good, solid work, and a treat to listen to. This is a SACD and I have to tip my hat to the recording engineer here, as the recording is lively and warm, and while nothing compares to the feeling of a live chamber music concert, this disc captures that feeling as well as I feel it can be captured given the differences between a stereo reproduction and the effects of a lively hall. This is a marvelous recording, and if you enjoy Mendelssohn’s string quartets then this disc is for you. Very Highly Recommended!" Report Abuse
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