Mendelssohn: String Quintets

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Editor's info:
In February 2009, on a date very close to the celebration of Mendelssohn’s 200th birthday, we got together for the first time in a quintet lineup in order to perform a small concert in the form of a public rehearsal. The repertoire was rapidly chosen: it had to include at least one piece by Mendelssohn. After that successful experiment, we spontaneously decided upon the composer’s second surname for our new quintet ...

A further inherent challenge lies in those aforementioned “spontaneous chamber music parties”: the two Mendelssohn quintets are simply too difficult to be treated off-handedly. In an insufficiently rehearsed B Flat Major Quintet, for instance, the main parts remain indistinguishable amidst a tumult of sixteenth notes. Performers can become entangled in the challenging virtuoso polyphony of the A Major Quintet’s last movement. In the Scherzo, there is a tiptoe spiccato balancing act that can cause insufficiently prepared performers to tumble head over heals into the chasm (even if the second viola
manages to avoid loss of face in the first eight solo measures) ...

In Mendelssohn’s case, the time between a finished composition and its subsequent publication could occasionally span several years, he frequently introduced significant changes, including cuts. The reasons for such changes are often no longer clear to us today. In certain cases it is not even clear whether Mendelssohn himself was responsible for the changes, or if they were made with his approval or not. The fundamental dilemma in working with these sources is that one has to give priority either to the autograph manuscript or to the first printed edition.

We have decided to record these works following Mendelssohn’s manuscript, thereby avoiding all cuts. As an alternative, however, we have included the later version of the finale of the B Flat Major Quintet, which was possibly not altered by Mendelssohn himself, but by Julius Rietz – a version which many connoisseurs will still have “in their inner ear”. We also find it quite beautiful. Decide for yourselves!

We find our musical fountain of youth in the works we rehearse as a quintet and the way we approach them. In a climate of mutual trust and familiarity, we find true joy in uncovering new aspects in works with which we were already well acquainted. Geographically we hail from many different corners of Germany, without a “marriage certificate” (as would be required from each one of us if we were a string quartet), we are able to participate in this
experience together with a great degree of individual freedom. As good friends, we can communicate with one another on a profound musical level, thus making our ideal of music-making a reality. (from the booklet notes)

Bartholdy Quintett

1. String Quintet in A Major, Op. 18 (1826) I. Allegro con moto 10:45
2. String Quintet in A Major, Op. 18 (1826) II. Intermezzo. Andante sostenuto 07:28
3. String Quintet in A Major, Op. 18 (1826) III. Scherzo. Allegro di molto 04:17
4. String Quintet in A Major, Op. 18 (1826) IV. Allegro vivace 05:52
5. BONUSTRACK: (originally 3rd movement of Op. 18) Minuetto. Allegro molto 04:14
6. String Quintet in B flat Major, Op. 87 I. Allegro vivace 09:12
7. String Quintet in B flat Major, Op. 87 II. Allegretto scherzando 03:53
8. String Quintet in B flat Major, Op. 87 III. Adagio e lento 08:50
9. String Quintet in B flat Major, Op. 87 IV. Allegro molto vivace 05:03
10. BONUSTRACK : (alternative 4th movement, arr. by Julius Rietz) 05:36

wydano: 04 June 2021


Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy [1809-1847]
Bartholdy Quintett
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