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Felix & Fanny Mendelssohn: String Quartets Op. 13 in A minor, Op. 80 in F minor and Quartet in E flat major

4.5 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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  • Felix & Fanny Mendelssohn: String Quartets Op. 13 in A minor, Op. 80 in F minor and Quartet in E flat major
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Product details

  • Audio CD (7 Jan. 2013)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: EMI
  • ASIN: B00A6KGDDM
  • Other Editions: MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 80,795 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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Digital Booklet: Mendelssohn Felix and Fanny
Digital Booklet: Mendelssohn Felix and Fanny
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Product Description

The Quatuor Ebène turns to Mendelssohn: two quartets by Felix and one by his elder sister Fanny, who composed over 400 works and who, like her brother, died in 1847. “Felix’s quartets speak with intimacy, but are not devoid of violent, stormy emotion,” says Raphaël Merlin of the Quatuor Ebène. He praises Fanny for composing “with surprising freedom”, saying “we fell in love with her string quartet”. 

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
There's a rather mawkish illustration inside the sleeve of the Quatuor Ebène's new disc of Felix and Fanny Mendelssohn's string quartets. It is taken from a painting by the Viennese artist Robert Poetzelberger. Fanny is leaning on Felix's shoulder, whose posture is frankly abysmal for playing the piano. Fundamentally, its queasy hand-me-down Romanticism is entirely wrong for the disc, which is both urgent and fresh and shows once more that these players are superb contenders within contemporary chamber music performance.

That said, the Quatuor Ebène never stints on the warmth you would expect for this repertoire, yet both of Mendelssohn's represented quartets are dark works and require significant interpretative strength. The players bed into the strings and the whole of the A minor quartet sounds as if haunted. They're not afraid of a landing on an open string and that ghostly sound appears time and again in the Intermezzo, a sort of absent presence within the midst of the work. Such details, always accompanied by vivid dynamic contrasts, put you in the world of the Schubert of 'Death and the Maiden' than the domestic recline you might expect of Mendelssohn.

The contrapuntal introduction to Fanny's E flat major quartet is no less intense and, while the players never disturb the gentle throb of metre, they emphasise the first movement's string of suspensions to great emotional ends. Despite the nominal tonality of the work, the quartet clings melancholically to the relative minor, which is only released back into E flat major in the final Allegro. Here too, however, the Ebène players maintain their potency, which shows the music in a rich and rewarding light.
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By Sid Nuncius #1 HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on 1 Sept. 2013
Format: 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.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
The brilliant performances accompany me when driving around idyllic
Countryside this time of year.Spring has at last started to catch up and give a man in declining years hope after an awful year of wind and rain.
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Format: Audio CD
What a smart idea to put Fanny in between the two Felix quartets. Fine acoustic, super playing, but when are these guys going to get themselves a new photographer. The boy band image is too old hat
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x9c66781c) out of 5 stars 5 reviews
19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9c56f27c) out of 5 stars Fluid, cultured, robust, and individualistic playing 2 Mar. 2013
By John J. Puccio - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
In all probability, most people even vaguely interested in classical music would recognize some of the music of Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847), maybe bits of the Third or Fourth Symphonies or A Midsummer Night's Dream at the very least. Even so, it's doubtful those same folks would recognize much or anything from Mendelssohn's older sister, the composer and conductor Fanny Mendelssohn (1805-1847). The two siblings were soul mates, however, and brother Felix would always let sister Fanny be the first to hear his newest compositions. Now, here's the thing: Fanny wrote over 400 pieces of music herself, although given the times, her family would not allow her to perform them during her lifetime. To help remedy the situation to some small degree, the present album offers two string quartets by the more-famous brother and one by the sister.

As I said about the Ebene Quartet the last time I encountered them on disc, they constitute a fine group of performers who exhibit plenty of virtuosity, dash, charm, precision, and poise. The four members of this relatively young, French ensemble are Pierre Colombet, violin; Gabriel Le Magadure, violin; Mathieu Herzog, viola; and Raphael Merlin, cello. They have been playing together for several years now and are becoming quite well known, not only for their playing of classical music but for their performances of jazz, which led some critics to fear the two genres might come into conflict in the ensemble's more-serious interpretations. Apparently, it hasn't happened. Not here, certainly. The Ebene Quartet's playing is as fluid and cultured as any I have heard, and if anything their interest in jazz has only helped hone the spontaneity of their classical skills, which remain smooth, robust, sophisticated, and individualistic..

The audio engineers miked things fairly closely, yet there is a good sense of place and space in the recording, with a fine touch of hall resonance and ambience. The quartet members do appear spread out rather widely across the speakers, making them sound somewhat larger than life; still, there is a good clarity about the sonics that more than makes up for any lack of ultimate realism. The violin sound can become a tad forward at times, too; it's never out of character with the distance to the players, however, so it presents no problem. Detailing is always exemplary, and there is a good separation of instruments.

John J. Puccio
Classical Candor
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
By Sid Nuncius - Published on Amazon.com
Format: 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.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9c56f708) out of 5 stars Quatuor Ebène with another solid recording 7 Jun. 2013
By Grady Harp - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
One of the more consistently exciting string quartets making specialmusi these days is the unique Quatuor Ebène formed in 1999 when the players were students at the Boulogne-Billancourt Conservatory. The members of the ensemble are: Pierre Colombet and Gabriel Le Magadure, violins; Mathieu Herzog, viola; and Raphaël Merlin, cello. They are a creative crew, pushing the boundaries of the classical repertoire with crossovers into popular and experimental music.

But it is the ensemble's classical side that has earned it its greatest successes, especially in performances of works by Haydn, Schubert, Brahms, Borodin, Fauré, Debussy, Ravel, Prokofiev, Bartók, and scores of others. Here they page homage to the Mendelssohns offering refreshing alive performances of the famous couples string quartets.
Included here are the following:

String Quartet No. 2 in A minor, Op. 13 of Felix Mendelssohn (1832)
String Quartet in E flat major of Fanny Mendelssohn (1834)
String Quartet No. 6 in F minor, Op. 80 of Felix Mendelssohn (1847)

The Quatuor Ebène delivers another recording filled with innovation and virtuosity here exploring the music and relationship between the brother and sister composing duo Felix and Fanny Mendelssohn. The immense outpouring of respect the quartet has for the Mendelssohns is brilliantly displayed in this release. They capture the Felix and Fanny both showed in these amazing pieces as well as their youthful, yet elegant and masterful talents.

Felix wrote The Quartet in F Minor, Op. 80, months following Fanny's death in 1847. It was the last major piece he completed before he died two months later on November 4, 1847. He composed the piece as an homage to his sister Fanny who had died on May 17 of that year and it bore the title "Requiem for Fanny." The piece contains an anguished Allegro vivace assai, dark Allegro assai, moving Adagio in A flat major, and Finale that expresses extreme grief up to its anguished closing bars. This powerful piece would prove to be Felix's final piece as he died months after its completion. Grady Harp, June 13
3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9c56fad4) out of 5 stars Music by Bacewich and Fanny and Felix Mendelssohn 21 July 2013
By Robert Glorieux - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
The music by Bacewicz is interesting in that way that it brings new visions in what music should do to listeners : the approach is fresh and accessible. Her violin-concertos are of a more important level that the concertos for cello. The music for string orchestra does confirm me that she is a great composer with surprising sounds and colours.
The music by the family Mendelssohn is however from a different quality : I already knew the string-quartets by Felix (which are astonishing and brilliant) but the work on the CD that struck me the most was the wonderful quartet by his sister Fanny : this was really a revelation of a very high level : music that sounds so adult and convincing, with beautiful moments of lyricism and explosive timbres. This work - which I consider a masterpiece - is in my eyes (and ears) a quartet that can easily constitute a valuable addition
to the other great quartets of "more influential" masters as Beethoven, Brahms, Schumann and other geniuses.
It is obvious that the quartets of Felix show a more mature writing and that those he wrote after the death of Fanny belong to his greatest achievements (comparable to his majestic "Octet" which I consider as his most sublime masterpiece). Nevertheless this CD (and the performance of the exquisite "Ebène" quartet) represent an important adding to my collection of CD's.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9c56f96c) out of 5 stars Four Stars 29 Sept. 2014
By Julio Sampaio - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
quite unique
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