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Mendelssohn: String Quartets Nos. 2 & 6 / Modigliani Quartet

Release Date: 12/14/2010 
Label:  Mirare   Catalog #: 120   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Felix Mendelssohn
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Modigliani String Quartet
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 1 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

MENDELSSOHN String Quartets: opp. 13, 80, 81/3 Modigliani Qrt MIRARE MIR 120 (61: 20)

The coupling of Mendelssohn’s early second string quartet (written before the quartet published as the first) and his sixth and final string quartet also couples his most impassioned chamber music writing. The early quartet in A Minor (op. 13) is an impassioned work, so inspired by despair over Beethoven’s recent death. It is from the pen of an 18-year-old musical genius of amazingly mature Read more intellect and sensibilities. The final quartet, in F Minor (op. 80), is impassioned by anguish and perhaps rage, a response that accompanied the mourning of his recently deceased, beloved sister, Fanny. The Modigliani Quartet approaches this music with impassioned playing that is as exact a fit to the composer’s inspirations as one can imagine. Phrasing and dynamics coupled with passion that never forsakes technique make these performances ideal.

The earlier quartet evokes certain string quartets of Beethoven, no doubt to honor the master composer in his recent passing. The opening bars of Mendelssohn’s Adagio non lento second movement are thematically related to the opening bars of Beethoven’s op. 74 Adagio ma non troppo second movement. The second subject fugato that follows is thematically related to the similarly located fugato subject of Beethoven’s op. 95 second movement, introduced in op. 95 by the viola at bar 34. Both of these fugatos open in D Minor.

In the later F-Minor quartet, the agitato that opens the first movement, expressing Mendelssohn’s anger over his sister’s premature death, and the ensuing first violin’s cri de coeur , expressing Mendelssohn’s concomitant anguish, are empathetically played. I find the Allegro assai second movement to be redolent in part b of its a-a-b-b form of the “Il terremoto” conclusion of Haydn’s Seven Last Words , a connection that could have been intentional considering Mendelssohn’s apparent emotional state at the time. The fortissimo dissonances in the fourth movement are played effectively—without restraint but also without distortion.

The Modigliani Quartet was formed in 2003 and since has placed first in various competitions. The Modiglianis have, with the greatest favor, impressed audiences in their many engagements throughout the world. Listening to them on this CD, this comes as no surprise.

There are many CD sets available that include all of Mendelssohn’s published works for string quartet. Such notable ensembles as the Emerson, Pacifica, and Leipzig quartets have turned out products that should be part of everyone’s collection. This leaves the current disc the task of at least equaling, and preferably surpassing, these complete quartet sets by having something new to offer. In the two full-length quartets represented here, the Modigliani Quartet offers something not only new, but also something of value. Get this disc!

FANFARE: Burton Rothleder
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Works on This Recording

Quartet for Strings no 2 in A minor, Op. 13 by Felix Mendelssohn
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Modigliani String Quartet
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1827; Germany 
Date of Recording: 05/2010 
Venue:  l'église de Bon Secours Paris XI 
Length: 30 Minutes 2 Secs. 
Quartet for Strings no 6 in F minor, Op. 80 by Felix Mendelssohn
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Modigliani String Quartet
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1847; Germany 
Date of Recording: 05/2010 
Venue:  l'église de Bon Secours Paris XI 
Length: 24 Minutes 23 Secs. 
Pieces (4) for String Quartet, Op. 81: no 3, Capriccio in E minor by Felix Mendelssohn
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Modigliani String Quartet
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1843; Germany 
Date of Recording: 05/2010 
Venue:  l'église de Bon Secours Paris XI 
Length: 5 Minutes 35 Secs. 

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