In 1827, when writing his Quartet in A minor, Op.13, the eighteen-year-old Mendelssohn was especially interested in Beethoven’s late quartets – at a time when these works were generally written off as ‘confused fantasies of a deaf musician’. In Mendelssohn's A minor quartet the debt to Beethoven is evident in the important role of polyphonic techniques, and particularly in the focus on cyclical connections between movements. The composer achieves this by using material from his own song, Frage, describing the result in a letter to a friend: ‘You will hear it – with its own notes – in the first and last movements, and in all four movements you will hear its emotions expressed.’ Ten years after the Op. 13 quartet, Mendelssohn composed the three quartets that make up his Op. 44. The D major quartet that closes the present disc was the last of these to be completed, but on publication, Mendelssohn placed it as the first in the set – in a letter to he violinist Ferdinand David, he wrote: 'I am very fond of it... it’s more ardent than the others, and more rewarding for the players...’ Besides the seven complete quartets – of which the first one remained unpublished during the composer's lifetime – Mendelssohn also wrote four individual movements for string quartet. These were gathered together and published posthumously with the opus number 81, and on this second volume of their complete Mendelssohn cycle the Escher Quartet perform two of these pieces, both conceived in August 1847, only a couple of months before the composer’s death. The first volume in the Eschers' series, released in April 2015, has been warmly received by the critics, with the internet site Pizzicato describing it as 'a noteworthy addition to the Mendelssohn discography'.
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