Probably no composer other than Mozart displayed such a prodigious talent in childhood as that displayed by the young Mendelssohn. His early flowering genius made him something of a phenomenon, and this saw his stature in adulthood rise to equal (rightly so) that of the greats – Bach, Beethoven and of course Mozart. This was followed by the inevitable decline in reputation – his comfortable upper middle class upbringing in a Berlin banking family, that included philosopher Moses Mendelssohn hardly fitted the late 19th century image of the struggling and tortured soul of the romantic artist.
The effects of perversions of the Nazi German regime which banned his music as he was a Jew almost sealed his fate apart from the affection held by performers for a handful of his works. But Mendelssohn is so much more than the composer of the Scottish and Italian Symphonies, the Violin Concerto and the oratorio Elijah.
The chamber music reveals not only his youthful precociosness as heard in the Octet composed at the age of 16 and a work of pure genius – but also in the sextet which ranks only a little behind its famous sibling for sheer bravura and craftsmanship. The string quartets are seriously underrated works, and show Mendelssohn’s deep appreciation of Beethoven’s quartets. These are masterful works that repay closer acquaintance.
Mendelssohn today is rightfully considered one of the great composers and the works in this 6CD set get right to the heart and soul of a man over-praised during his life and for too long under-appreciated in death.
- The complete String Quartets, String Quintets, and the famous Octet (in fact for two string quartets) of Mendelssohn, in which he develops the classical Beethovenian style into high Romanticism.
- Excellent performances by the Gewandhaus Quartet, deriving their name from the famous Konzerthaus in Leipzig which was founded by…Mendelssohn.
- Remarkable value, and a first-class introduction to some lesser-known Mendelssohn.
- German critic: "Ideale Interpreten, Gewandhaus-Quartett Leipzig besticht mit Präzision. Die Klangkultur des Quartetts, die Präzision und makellose Intonation sind einmalig. Großartig die Interpretation von Mendelssohn-Bartholdys 'Streichquartett Nr.6 f-Moll op.80' aus seinem Todesjahr 1847." (Süddeutsche Zeitung)