I've not seen the sleeve so I cannot tell how many of the players took part in the 1968 Argo recording. With one possible proviso, the new version is of better quality, and the playing is a little more polished too. In short this is a first-rate performance of as entrancing a work as Mendelssohn ever wrote. The proviso relates to the clarity of the texture, and more particularly of the cellos when involved with very quick notes on the bottom string. The partly fugal finale starts with an entry of this nature, and it is also a shade clearer on the Philips I Musici disc. But there is not much in it, and the playing of the Scherzo leaves me in no doubt that the new recording is the best available. Taken at a faster and more dangerous tempoRead more than I Musici adopt, it sounds much more taut and exciting.
I rather wish the coupling had been the earlier of Mendelssohn's string quintets. It was written, most of it at least, immediately after the Octet, and thus dates from the composer's late 'teens when inspiration shone so brightly, I never recall hearing a recording of it; indeed very few mature works by the great composers have been so neglected. However the much later one in B flat is beautifully written and gives plenty of well-taken opportunities for virtuoso playing, notably in the finale, but there are dullish bits in every movement except the second which is consistently charming. In 1968 there was a Boccherini Quintet on the back of the Octet, and I Musici offer two of Mendelssohn's boyhood symphonies for strings. I'd as soon have the B flat Quintet, in spite of my slightly disparaging remarks, and you do get the best performance of the Octet with it.
Octet in E flat, Op.20: 1. Allegro moderato, ma con fuoco
Octet in E flat, Op.20: 2. Andante
Octet in E flat, Op.20: 3. Scherzo (Allegro leggierissimo)
Octet in E flat, Op.20: 4. Presto
String Quintet No.2 in B flat, Op.87: 1. Allegro vivace
String Quintet No.2 in B flat, Op.87: 2. Andante scherzando
String Quintet No.2 in B flat, Op.87: 3. Adagio e lento
String Quintet No.2 in B flat, Op.87: 4. Allegro molto vivace
Average Customer Review: ( 1 Customer Review )
Memorable MendelssohnFebruary 25, 2014By bess holloway (Boulder, CO)See All My Reviews"I've lived with and loved this recording for many years--my CD is one of the originals. There are other versions of the Octet available, of course, but this one is beautifully performed. The Quintet is a lovely work, one I have not heard elsewhere."Report Abuse
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