8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: Felix & Fanny Mendelssohn: String Quartets Op. 13 in A minor, Op. 80 in F minor and Quartet in E flat major (Audio CD)
This is yet another superb disc from Quatuor Ebène. Their disc of Debussy, Fauré and Ravel won Gramophone's Recording of the Year award, and I think this is in the same league.
There is a perception in some quarters that Felix Mendelssohn was a bit lightweight and not a great composer. I think these works and performances show that to be wholly untrue. There is genuine depth and musical brilliance here both in the youthful A minor quartet and the intense, more mature F minor. I hadn't heard Fanny Mendelssohn's quartet before (to my shame) and it is also very, very good - full of genuine skill and inventiveness, and a very engaging work to listen to.
What makes this disc shine is the performance of Quatuor Ebène. We are blessed to have a lot of very fine string quartets performing at the moment, and Quatuor Ebène are among the very best. Their technique and intonation are rock-solid and they have formed themselves into a wonderfully empathetic chamber unit. As an example, take the Allegro di molto section of the 3rd movement of the A minor quartet. There is a lot of very quick, super-fine work on the first violin which is made to sound easy, but also, unflashily in the background, wonderfully nimble, sensitive cello playing. The whole thing hangs together and blends beautifully, and makes perfect emotional sense among the virtuosic playing. And then the finale begins with Death-And-The-Maiden-like intensity and we are off in another completely different but equally involving direction. It is quite wonderful playing, all put to the service of the music rather than the glory of the musicians. The rest of the disc is just as good.
I cannot recommend this too highly. It is excellent music, beautifully played and very well recorded. A real gem.