An exceptionally fine performance of the Mendelssohn string quintets by Jaime Laredo, Ani Kavafian, Heiichiro Ohyama, Kim Kashkashian and Sharon Robinson can be found on CD45883 (61 minutes: ADD). These are rhythmically alert and spirited readings, played with great charm and eloquence. They are an especially welcome addition to a catalogue that sports no rival version of No. 1 and only one of No. 2. The 1978 recording is one of the best in the batch, exceptionally well balanced with a fine feeling of depth and presence. Strongly recommended. (Gramophone)
After its first two recordings, devoted to Schubert then Beethoven, highly praised and recommended by the critics (both ffff in Télérama, recommended by The Strad…), this eclectic, innovative quartet is now celebrating its tenth anniversary by tackling the string quintets of Mozart and Brahms. These two scores, representative of the culmination of a career in the case of Brahms and, for Mozart, the end of a life, are sustained by vigorous inspiration and frothing energy.
Since its formation in 1982 the Salomon String Quartet has established its position as one of the world's leading ensembles specialising in the historical performance of the classical string quartet repertoire. The quartet has toured extensively in Europe, the USA, the Far East, Israel and Australia as well as making regular appearances at British music societies and festivals. It has made many records for Hyperion and given numerous radio and television broadcasts. In addition to the music of Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven and Schubert, which forms the basis of its repertoire, the Salomon Quartet has always been committed to the exploration and performance of the wealth of quartet music written by their contemporaries.
In 1827, when writing his Quartet in A minor, Op.13, the 18-year-old Felix Mendelssohn was especially interested in Beethovens late quartets at a time when these works were generally written off as confused fantasies of a deaf musician. Mendelssohn's debt to Beethoven is evident in the important role of polyphonic techniques, particularly in the focus on cyclical connections between movements. Ten years on, Mendelssohn composed the three quartets, Op. 44, the D major quartet that closes the present disc the last of these to be completed; on publication, however, Mendelssohn placed it first in the set. Besides the seven complete quartets, Mendelssohn also wrote four individual string quartet movements. These were gathered together and published posthumously as op. 81, and on this second volume of their complete Mendelssohn cycle the Escher Quartet perform two of these pieces, both conceived in August 1847, shortly before the composers death.
Together with the Talich Quartet’s accounts on Calliope, these Mozart string quintets with Arthur Grumiaux and friends represent the best currently available choices. Since the Grumiaux version was released in 1973 it has remained a stalwart of the catalog, and was previously released as part of Philips’ grandiose Complete Mozart Edition in 1991 and later was included with other chamber works in a pair of Duos issued in 1997. The analog sound has held up well compared to current standards and is perfectly acceptable, placing the musicians in a natural, believable sound-stage.
"Ensemble 415 is a chamber ensemble devoted largely to the performance of Baroque music on period instruments. The numerical reference in the group's name derives from the pitch used for tuning instruments in the Baroque era. In performing chamber music, Ensemble 415 consists of just a few players, but for larger compositions, the number expands to a minimum of 13 and can reach up to as high as 40 performers. The ensemble's repertory has been broad over the years, taking in many Baroque standards by J.S. Bach, Vivaldi, and Handel, as well as lesser known fare by Muffat and others…"