Saturday, June 14, 2014

Why I Do What I Do (Mendelssohn: Quartet, Op. 80)


Mendelssohn: String Quartet, Op. 80
Miami String Quartet
McGill International String Quartet Academy

This entry will be the first of an occasional feature exploring my, or others', connection with music.

Yesterday, I received from the Miami String Quartet's violist, Scott Lee, some YouTube links to the Miami's performances of Mendelssohn's Op. 80 quartet, and Shostakovich's String Quartet No. 9. I decided to do a little listening when my 8-year-old reported home from school, and we listened together to the first movement of the Mendelssohn.

Miami String Quartet
Mendelssohn: String Quartet in F minor, Op. 80
I. Allegro vivace assai
McGill International String Quartet Academy, August 13, 2013


I enjoyed my son taking it in. At 3:35 in the Miami performance - which is m. 143 if you care to look up the score - he said, "It's like floating in the air."

This passage is very dramatic. The first violin, at first in double-stopped octaves, rising from A above the treble clef up to G-flat, and then lofting up to a long-held high B-flat. The other three players are all low in the ranges of their instruments.

It is the "retransition," that point in sonata form that is the end of the development section, just before the start of the recapitulation. In fact, Mendelssohn doesn't make the demarcation between development and recapitulation in the least bit clear - to my ears, the retransition bridges the end of the development and beginning of the recapitulation - which only adds to the feeling of floating.

It is a remarkable bit of music. Anyone who thinks Mendelssohn's approach to be square need only look here to disabuse themselves of that notion.

Thank you, Felix.

And let's not forget to thank the music makers. Thank you Benny, Cathy, Scott, and Robby.

We also must not forget to thank the presenter of this performance, AndrĂ© Roy, General & Artistic Director of the McGill International String Quartet Academy. The concert took place on August 13, 2013.



Here's the rest of the quartet:

Miami String Quartet
Mendelssohn: String Quartet in F minor, Op. 80
II. Allegro assai
McGill International String Quartet Academy, August 13, 2013


Miami String Quartet
Mendelssohn: String Quartet in F minor, Op. 80
III. Adagio
McGill International String Quartet Academy, August 13, 2013


Miami String Quartet
Mendelssohn: String Quartet in F minor, Op. 80
IV. Finale: Allegro molto
McGill International String Quartet Academy, August 13, 2013

Enjoy!


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