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Mendelssohn: Octet, Quintet / ASMF Chamber Ensemble

Release Date: 10/25/1990 
Label:  Philips   Catalog #: 420400   Spars Code: ADD 
Composer:  Felix Mendelssohn
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Academy of St. Martin in the Fields Chamber Ens.
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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This CD is reissued by ArkivMusic.

Notes and Editorial Reviews

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 tempo Read 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.

-- Gramophone [3/1980]
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Works on This Recording

Octet for Strings in E flat major, Op. 20 by Felix Mendelssohn
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Academy of St. Martin in the Fields Chamber Ens.
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1825; Germany 
Quintet for Strings no 2 in B flat major, Op. 87 by Felix Mendelssohn
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Academy of St. Martin in the Fields Chamber Ens.
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1845; Germany 

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  2 Customer Reviews )
 Luscious Music Beautifully Rendered July 28, 2015 By Susan K. (Fairfield, CT) See All My Reviews "I purchased this CD on the recommendation of a musician who is a client, and I am so glad I did. I have listened to the recording numerous times since receiving it several weeks ago and discover more to love every time I hear it. Not only are the compositions wonderfully complex and sumptuous, but the ASMF Chamber Ensemble play them gloriously. I will look for other recordings by this chamber group and am confident that if they are available, Arkiv Music will have them!" Report Abuse
 Memorable Mendelssohn February 25, 2014 By 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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