Magazine article Gramophone

Mendelssohn: String Quartets-No 2, Op 13

Magazine article Gramophone

Mendelssohn: String Quartets-No 2, Op 13

Article excerpt

Mendelssohn

String Quartets--No 2, Op 13; No 3, Op 44 No 1; No 6, Op 80

Artemis Quartet

Erato [B] [2] 2564 63669-0 (88' * DDD)

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Four notes--G sharp, A, F natural and E--opening Beethoven's A minor Quartet, Op 132, must have intrigued Mendelssohn; but the relationship between the last two, a flattened sixth against a fifth, is an inspiration for Op 13. They are initially heard as a trill on the viola taking the music out of the introductory Adagio in A major into the A minor Allegro vivace first movement, where these notes appear often, their pattern repeated in other parts in the same key. Yet that Adagio also carries references to another inspiration, Mendelssohn's own song '1st es wahr?' ('Is it true?'), which he says 'speaks in the whole piece' though is never fully quoted. Hear it speaking compassionately but perhaps not questioningly at the beginning by the Artemis Quartet, who may however catch you unawares by their vehemence in the main section, easing the tempo though for the E minor second subject. And easing much more for the second movement Adagio non lento, the D minor fugue in its second section keenly clarified, the A minor third reaching a dramatic climax before the first section returns to close the movement as Beethoven did the Cavatina of his Op 130, four identical chords tied together fading to pianissimo--which is also how the work ends. …

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