MENDELSSOHN STRING QUARTETS

Consone Quartet

St Matthews Carver Street, Sheffield
Saturday 26 October 2024, 2.00pm

Tickets 
£17
£10 UC, DLA & PIP
£5 Under 35s & Students 

Book Tickets
Players from the Consone String Quartet with their instruments

 FELIX MENDELSSOHN
   String Quartet in E flat (1823) (27’)
   Scherzo from Four Pieces Op.81 (3’)
   String Quartet in E minor Op.44 No.2 (30’) 

Music in the Round’s new Visiting String Quartet made their spellbinding Sheffield debut with a rapturously received celebration of the quartets of Fanny and Felix Mendelssohn in spring 2024.  

They return to Sheffield this autumn for an immersive afternoon and evening exploring more of Felix Mendelssohn’s quartets. 

View the brochure online here or download it below.

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Save £s when you book for 5 Music in the Round concerts or more at the same time. Find out more here. 

MENDELSSOHN Felix, String Quartet in E Flat (1823)

Mendelssohn was fourteen years old when he composed his E flat major String Quartet in 1823 – two years before Beethoven completed the first of his ‘late’ quartets, and two years before Mendelssohn himself wrote the first version of his Octet. It was published posthumously (in 1879) but is much less well-known than Mendelssohn’s mature quartets. Prodigiously gifted though he was, Mendelssohn was still finding his way stylistically so this work owes much to the models of Haydn and Mozart and, in the finale, to Bach. The Mendelssohn authority R. Larry Todd wrote that the music of the composer’s earliest attempt at writing a full-length string quartet was ‘firmly grounded in the classical tradition’ – but Todd also noted that it was completed in just eleven days: the first page of the autograph manuscript is dated 25 March 1823 and the last page 5 April. The opening Allegro moderato is an elegant, rather Mozartian movement in sonata form, but the Adagio non troppo, in C minor, is darker, with more adventurous chromatic harmony. The Minuet and Trio has distinct echoes of Haydn while the finale is a contrapuntal tour de force: a double fugue which was probably modelled on the fugal finales in three of Haydn’s Op. 20 quartets. 

Nigel Simeone © 2024 

MENDELSSOHN Felix, Scherzo (from Four Pieces for String Quartet), Op. 81, No. 2

The four pieces for string quartet published in 1850 as Mendelssohn’s Op. 81 were assembled from music written over a twenty-year period: the earliest dates from 1827 while the Scherzo was composed in 1847, the year of Mendelssohn’s death. The gossamer lightness of his scherzos was already apparent in the early Octet, and perhaps the most celebrated example was composed in 1842 for the incidental music to A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Marked Allegro leggiero, the same inspired lightness of touch and dazzling flair for the most delicate instrumental writing are both apparent in this late example of a stand-alone Scherzo for string quartet. 

Nigel Simeone © 2024 

 

MENDELSSOHN Felix, String Quartet in E minor Op.44, No.2

The last of Felix Mendelssohn’s string quartets was composed in August–September 1847 at Interlaken, a few months after the death of his sister, Fanny Hensel-Mendelssohn. Written as an instrumental Requiem in her memory, it was completed shortly before Mendelssohn’s own death. The first movement is defiant and agitated, while the Scherzo is most unlike Mendelssohn’s usual Scherzo style: this is earnest, dark and intense music. The deeply-felt Adagio is the emotional heart of the work, and the movement that is most obviously elegiac in character. The uneasy start of the finale, marked by syncopations and trills, finds moments of lyricism (including some self-quotations) as well as outbursts of anger. Few works in Mendelssohn’s output are so personal, and so overtly emotional. Though Mendelssohn heard the work played privately, the first public performance took place after his death. It was given in Leipzig by a quartet led by Joseph Joachim at a memorial concert on 4 November 1848 – the first anniversary of Mendelssohn’s death.  

 

© Nigel Simeone 

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