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)
Finally, Mendelssohn's string quartets are hitting the big time. Over the past decade, there have been more and, for the most part, better recordings of his quartets that at any time in history. Think of the Alban Berg Quartet's brilliantly bracing recording or the Quatuor Mosaïques' fervently soulful recording. Of course, there have also been some fairly mediocre recordings – think of the Emerson's recklessly energetic recording – and merely passable recordings – think of the Henschel's hastily enthusiastic recording.
"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…"
Two works completed before the composer turned 23. Schumann asserted: "he is the Mozart of the 19th century, he is the brightest composer of the age, and he comprehends, with finest humour, the contradictions of our time more clearly than anyone, so that he is the first to reconcile them".
The Takács Quartet have been recently described as ‘one of the world’s most distinguished ensembles’. Here they collaborate with Britain’s greatest living viola player, Lawrence Power, who with his long association with The Nash Ensemble among others has also proved himself a remarkable chamber musician.
Kuijken was born in Dilbeek, near Brussels. He was a member of the Alarius Ensemble of Brussels between 1964 and 1972 and formed La Petite Bande in 1972. Since 1971 he has taught Baroque violin at the Royal Conservatory of The Hague and the Koninklijk Muziekconservatorium in Brussels. He is noted for using the older technique of resting the violin on the shoulder without a shoulder rest, rather than held under the chin. He is a member of the Kuijken String Quartet, which he formed in 1986. In recent years, he has also performed as conductor of symphonies of the Romantic era.
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.
Acclaimed by the San Francisco Chronicle as "one of the great quartets of our times," the Pro Arte Quartet has enjoyed a long and distinguished career as one of the most enduring string quartets in existence. Founded in Brussels in 1912 by violinist Alphonse Annou and violist Germain Prevost, the Pro Arte became the court quartet to Queen Elisabeth of Belgium. Its world reputation soared with a European tour in 1919, earning the …..
Beethoven's two string quintets are among his least-played major works. This is perhaps understandable in the case of the String Quintet in E flat major, Op. 4, which is based on a serenade from the composer's early Bonn years. That's interesting enough in itself, for it places you inside the expansion of Beethoven's creative capabilities when he came under Haydn's tutelage in Vienna (although this work sounds more like Mozart than Haydn). The String Quintet in C major, Op. 29, was composed in 1800 and 1801, and its absence from the mainstream repertoire is harder to explain.