Mendelssohn: String Quartet Op. 44 nos 1 & 2
The three quartets of opus 44 are the centrepiece
of Felix Mendelssohn's mature
string quartets. He wrote them in the years
1837-38, starting composition at the age
of 28, when his fame in the international
musical community was rapidly growing.
The oratorio St. Paul had recently brought
international success. He had directed the
renowned Gewandhaus Orchestra in Leipzig
since 1835. Now, he travelled constantly
between the important musical centres of
Europe – conducting, advising major cultural
and educational committees, composing
commissioned works to order for the major
festivals and performing as a pianist, organist
and chamber musician for the public and
royalty of Europe. Family matters similarly
came fast and furious with his wedding to
C.cile Jeanrenaud, the daughter of a French
Protestant clergyman, in March 1837 and
the establishment of a new home in Leipzig.

He began composition of the opus 44 quartets
during his honeymoon in the Black Forest
and completed the earliest of them, in E minor,
on June 18, 1837. The E-flat major quartet
followed on February 6 of the following year,
the day before the birth of his first son, Carl Wolfgang Paul. The last to be completed, in
D major, followed on July 24, 1838. With all
three complete, Mendelssohn re-ordered
them, giving them the numbering we know
today and published the set as Trois Grands
Quatuors, with a dedication to the Crown
Prince of Sweden.

Mendelssohn held the Quartet in D major,
Op. 44, No. 1 in high regard. It was the first of
the three to be published but the last to be
written. "I have just finished my Quartet in
D," he wrote to the violinist Ferdinand David,
a close friend and concertmaster of the
Gewandhaus Orchestra. "I like it very much.
I hope it may please you as well. I rather think
it will, since it is more spirited and seems to
me likely to be more grateful to the players
than the others." David and his quartet had
already premi.red the two earlier opus 44
quartets and now gave the first performance
of the D major at one of the quartet’s regular
matinées, on February 16, 1839.

The opening movement is an exuberant
and high spirited conversation between the
four instruments, confidently written and
carefully polished. After a period without
writing chamber music in the early 1830s,
Mendelssohn is now more classically oriented
than he was in the earlier, structurally experimental
and Beethoven-influenced opus 12 and 13 quartets. The two central movements
provide contrast to the quartet’s exuberant
start. First comes a gentle, smooth-as-silk
Menuetto, somewhat rococo in flavour and
in the even structure of its phrases. It is
the only minuet in any of Mendelssohn’s
quartets. A wistful slow movement follows
in which the composer keeps a firm hand
on the sentiment. The brilliant finale is a
driving saltarello, a whirlwind version of a
16th century dance form that Mendelssohn
had already mastered in the final movement
of his Italian symphony.

The Quartet in E minor, Op. 44, No. 2, the
earliest of the three to be written, opens
with a sense of urgency, in Mendelssohn’s
favoured key of E minor. Through the agitation,
there is a touch of melancholy to the
first violin theme. Its arching shape and
syncopated accompaniment bear a strong
resemblance to the opening of the violin
concerto that Mendelssohn was to write in
the same key and for the same violinist the
following year. (Its opening arching arpeggio
phrase also mirrors the opening of the finale
of Mozart’s late G minor symphony, but there
the similarity ends.) The tautly woven musical
ideas of the movement balance the tension
of the opening theme with the repose
of its second theme. The fertility of invention
carries over into the sparkling Scherzo. This is propelled by rhythmic vitality and constantly
surprises us with the unexpected. At
the same time, everything lies comfortably
on the fingerboard – as in the Octet, this is
music that is written for those who play as
well as for the instruments they play upon.
Mendelssohn brings a violinist’s (and viola
player’s) inside knowledge to the interplay
between the four instruments. “He never
touched a string instrument the whole year
round,” the composer Ferdinand Hiller once
said, “but, when he wanted to play, as with
most things in life, he could do it.” The slow
movement is a bittersweet song-withoutwords,
whose main melody sounds especially
eloquent when it reappears on the cello.
Any hint of sentimentality – a concern in
some of Mendelssohn’s music – is avoided
with the composer’s caution not to drag out
(nicht schleppend) the movement. The finale
again reveals great sophistication in the
intricate way Mendelssohn handles bravura
material, marrying musical craft with technical
virtuosity.
Release date:
October 02, 2015
Album code:
AN 2 9844
Periods:
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Mendelssohn: String Quartet Op. 44 nos 1 & 2

Mendelssohn, Felix Bartholdy (1809 - 1847)
String Quartet in D major, Op. 44, No. 1
1
I. Molto allegro vivace
1,99 $
9:40
2
II. Menuetto: Un poco allegretto
1,99 $
5:13
3
III. Andante espressivo ma con moto
1,99 $
5:22
4
IV. Presto con brio
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7:17
Mendelssohn, Felix Bartholdy (1809 - 1847)
String Quartet in E minor, Op. 44, No. 2
5
I. Allegro assai appassionato
1,99 $
7:39
6
II. Scherzo: Allegro di molto
0,99 $
3:58
7
III. Andante
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5:46
8
IV. Presto agitato
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7:10
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Mendelssohn: String Quartet Op. 44 nos 1 & 2

Album code: AN 2 9844
Release date: October 02, 2015

Période(s): Romantic

Genre(s): Chamber MusicViolinViola, cello, viola da gamba, bass (strings)

Composers:
Mendelssohn, Felix Bartholdy

Performers:
Cecilia String Quartet,



The three quartets of opus 44 are the centrepiece
of Felix Mendelssohn's mature
string quartets. He wrote them in the years
1837-38, starting composition at the age
of 28, when his fame in the international
musical community was rapidly growing.
The oratorio St. Paul had recently brought
international success. He had directed the
renowned Gewandhaus Orchestra in Leipzig
since 1835. Now, he travelled constantly
between the important musical centres of
Europe – conducting, advising major cultural
and educational committees, composing
commissioned works to order for the major
festivals and performing as a pianist, organist
and chamber musician for the public and
royalty of Europe. Family matters similarly
came fast and furious with his wedding to
C.cile Jeanrenaud, the daughter of a French
Protestant clergyman, in March 1837 and
the establishment of a new home in Leipzig.

He began composition of the opus 44 quartets
during his honeymoon in the Black Forest
and completed the earliest of them, in E minor,
on June 18, 1837. The E-flat major quartet
followed on February 6 of the following year,
the day before the birth of his first son, Carl Wolfgang Paul. The last to be completed, in
D major, followed on July 24, 1838. With all
three complete, Mendelssohn re-ordered
them, giving them the numbering we know
today and published the set as Trois Grands
Quatuors, with a dedication to the Crown
Prince of Sweden.

Mendelssohn held the Quartet in D major,
Op. 44, No. 1 in high regard. It was the first of
the three to be published but the last to be
written. "I have just finished my Quartet in
D," he wrote to the violinist Ferdinand David,
a close friend and concertmaster of the
Gewandhaus Orchestra. "I like it very much.
I hope it may please you as well. I rather think
it will, since it is more spirited and seems to
me likely to be more grateful to the players
than the others." David and his quartet had
already premi.red the two earlier opus 44
quartets and now gave the first performance
of the D major at one of the quartet’s regular
matinées, on February 16, 1839.

The opening movement is an exuberant
and high spirited conversation between the
four instruments, confidently written and
carefully polished. After a period without
writing chamber music in the early 1830s,
Mendelssohn is now more classically oriented
than he was in the earlier, structurally experimental
and Beethoven-influenced opus 12 and 13 quartets. The two central movements
provide contrast to the quartet’s exuberant
start. First comes a gentle, smooth-as-silk
Menuetto, somewhat rococo in flavour and
in the even structure of its phrases. It is
the only minuet in any of Mendelssohn’s
quartets. A wistful slow movement follows
in which the composer keeps a firm hand
on the sentiment. The brilliant finale is a
driving saltarello, a whirlwind version of a
16th century dance form that Mendelssohn
had already mastered in the final movement
of his Italian symphony.

The Quartet in E minor, Op. 44, No. 2, the
earliest of the three to be written, opens
with a sense of urgency, in Mendelssohn’s
favoured key of E minor. Through the agitation,
there is a touch of melancholy to the
first violin theme. Its arching shape and
syncopated accompaniment bear a strong
resemblance to the opening of the violin
concerto that Mendelssohn was to write in
the same key and for the same violinist the
following year. (Its opening arching arpeggio
phrase also mirrors the opening of the finale
of Mozart’s late G minor symphony, but there
the similarity ends.) The tautly woven musical
ideas of the movement balance the tension
of the opening theme with the repose
of its second theme. The fertility of invention
carries over into the sparkling Scherzo. This is propelled by rhythmic vitality and constantly
surprises us with the unexpected. At
the same time, everything lies comfortably
on the fingerboard – as in the Octet, this is
music that is written for those who play as
well as for the instruments they play upon.
Mendelssohn brings a violinist’s (and viola
player’s) inside knowledge to the interplay
between the four instruments. “He never
touched a string instrument the whole year
round,” the composer Ferdinand Hiller once
said, “but, when he wanted to play, as with
most things in life, he could do it.” The slow
movement is a bittersweet song-withoutwords,
whose main melody sounds especially
eloquent when it reappears on the cello.
Any hint of sentimentality – a concern in
some of Mendelssohn’s music – is avoided
with the composer’s caution not to drag out
(nicht schleppend) the movement. The finale
again reveals great sophistication in the
intricate way Mendelssohn handles bravura
material, marrying musical craft with technical
virtuosity.
1
Mendelssohn, Felix Bartholdy
Mendelssohn, Felix Bartholdy (1809 - 1847)
String Quartet in D major, Op. 44, No. 1
9:40
2
Mendelssohn, Felix Bartholdy
Mendelssohn, Felix Bartholdy (1809 - 1847)
String Quartet in D major, Op. 44, No. 1
5:13
3
Mendelssohn, Felix Bartholdy
Mendelssohn, Felix Bartholdy (1809 - 1847)
String Quartet in D major, Op. 44, No. 1
5:22
4
Mendelssohn, Felix Bartholdy
Mendelssohn, Felix Bartholdy (1809 - 1847)
String Quartet in D major, Op. 44, No. 1
7:17
5
Mendelssohn, Felix Bartholdy
Mendelssohn, Felix Bartholdy (1809 - 1847)
String Quartet in E minor, Op. 44, No. 2
7:39
6
Mendelssohn, Felix Bartholdy
Mendelssohn, Felix Bartholdy (1809 - 1847)
String Quartet in E minor, Op. 44, No. 2
3:58
7
Mendelssohn, Felix Bartholdy
Mendelssohn, Felix Bartholdy (1809 - 1847)
String Quartet in E minor, Op. 44, No. 2
5:46
8
Mendelssohn, Felix Bartholdy
Mendelssohn, Felix Bartholdy (1809 - 1847)
String Quartet in E minor, Op. 44, No. 2
7:10