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Mendelssohn: String Quintets Nos 1 & 2

Timothy Ridout (viola), Doric String Quartet (Chandos)

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

String Quintets Nos 1 & 2
Timothy Ridout (viola), Doric String Quartet
Chandos CHAN 20218   61:31 mins


Mendelssohn’s two string quintets come from more or less opposite ends of his career, with the first, in A major, being a product of his miraculous teenage years, and its successor having been composed just two years or so before his death at the age of 38. Mendelssohn subsequently revised the earlier work, discarding its minuet movement and writing in its place a slow Intermezzo in memory of his former violin teacher Eduard Rietz. This is an altogether wonderful work, full of the same youthful exuberance we find in Mendelssohn’s famous Octet for strings which he composed shortly before it, and the Doric Quartet with Timothy Ridout make light of its formidable difficulties. Their very effective pianissimo playing stands them in particularly good stead in the quietly scurrying scherzo which is first cousin to the similar piece in the Octet; and their energy in the finale’s spectacular display of counterpoint is unflagging.

The Op. 87 Quintet has a deeply felt slow movement, but Mendelssohn was unhappy with its finale, and the work wasn’t published until after his death. This new recording includes a couple of passages which he deleted, and they undoubtedly make the movement more satisfying. No Mendelssohn lover should be without this disc.

Misha Donat

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