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String Quartet No. 2, Octet

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Mendelssohn: Quartet No. 2 & Octet
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Audio CD, August 15, 2006
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String Quartet No. 2, Octet + Brahms: Quartets In A Minor & C Minor
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Editorial Reviews


1. I. Adagio - Allegro Vivace
2. II. Adagio Non Lento
3. III. Intermezzo. Allegretto Con Moto - Allegro Di Molto
4. IV. Presto - Adagio Non Lento
5. I. Allegro Moderato, Ma Con Fuoco
6. II. Andante
7. III. Scherzo. Allegro Leggierissimo
8. IV. Presto

Product Details

  • Audio CD (August 15, 2006)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Telarc
  • ASIN: B000003CU9
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #145,400 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 18 people found the following review helpful By slightlykooky on August 31, 2000
Format: Audio CD
Written when he was only 15 years old, Mendelssohn's octet in E-flat Major is one of those pieces you will just shake your head and say "i can't believe that was written by a 15 year old!" How many people can remember what they were doing at 15. Well on this disc we have the fruits of one 15 year old, in all of its innate lyrical tension and drama. The recording brings together the now-disbanded Cleveland Quartet with one of their protege quartets, the Meliora Quartet. Many critics have said that it was at the time of this recording that the Cleveland was at its height before they had several personnel changes. I've listened to recordings of the Cleveland after these changes and they still ROCK in any personnel configuration. In terms of programming this disc is the only recording on the market to pair both of Mendelssohn's octets. I give it 4 and a half stars out of 5.
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Format: Audio CD
Here we have two of the greatest works ever composed by a teenager. Mendelssohn's brilliant Octet in E-flat for strings, Op. 20, was written in 1825, when Mendelssohn was only 16; it is commonly regarded as a pinnacle of chamber music. Two years later, Mendelssohn composed his String Quartet in A Minor, Op. 13. Written before his so-called first quartet, it is a Beethoven-saturated work, heavily influenced by Beethoven's Op. 132 quartet, but with hallmarks of Mendelssohn's style, including a beautiful intermezzo with a highly characteristic elfin central episode reminiscent of the Octet's more famous scherzo.

I have heard each of these works played many times, both on recording and in concert, and I would say these performances rank near the top. In fact, they may be the best I've heard on record using modern instruments; they are possibly outclassed only by the performances by Hausmusik (contained on a very recommendable two-fer available on Amazon).

This superb recording has been particularly ill-served by Amazon reviewers. One reviewer, appropriately named "slightlykooky," claims that it is the only recording to feature both of Mendelssohn's Octets. Mendelssohn wrote only one octet, and as can be clearly seen from the CD cover, it is paired here with the great early string quartet in A minor, Op. 13. Another, "Joseph," complains of a lack of coordination and intonation problems that I simply don't hear. Anyone who knows the Cleveland's critically acclaimed Beethoven cycle knows that their playing is technically flawless and unfailingly musical, served well by Telarc's engineers. You can listen to the final movement of the Octet on YouTube if you want to judge for yourself. At the price it is being offered here, I'd say this is a recording no fan of 19th century chamber music can pass this up.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By CelloLover on April 4, 2015
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Spectacular- virtuosic- full of life and joy!
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14 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Joseph on January 5, 2002
Format: Audio CD
These works are so well known, so deservedly famous, that choosing one recording among so many can be daunting, especially to the beginning listener. This is an old recording and one whose sound, dynamic range, and rather dead timbre indicate as much, which is unfortunate because the Cleveland Quartet was a relatively famous group during the late-70s and early-80s. With the improvements in recording technology, particularly with regards to reissues such as this, an engineer can make a silk purse from a sow's ear. Alas, that is not the case here. Besides clarity of sound, the performance, while energetic, isn't exact - intonation problems, sloppy entries, and, in the case of the Octet, the typical problem of blending two groups of musicians (no matter that the Meliora was a student group of the Cleveland) plague this recording. Frankly, it sounds as though more rehearsal time was needed. For example, the first movement of the Quartet sounds as though the musicians had a difficult time choosing an agreeable tempo. Again, the performances have energy and a certain passion, but the lack of attention to detail betray Mendelssohn's musical personality: a classical smoothness and elegance infused with romantic fire. Ladies and gentlemen, playing a piece louder doesn't hide sloppiness, particularly in music such as this!
The flaws of this recording are simply too great to be able to recommend it and music of this quality deserves better. Some may think this review too severe, but as there are so many superior and less-expensive recordings out there, I give it only 2 stars.
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