Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847)
Mendelssohn’s last complete string quartet is a dark tour de force celebrated for that blistering intensity that music writer James Keller calls “combustible.” Throughout Mendelssohn’s work one finds passionate drama and that signature nervous drive, high strung, anxious and ready to explode. But in the F minor quartet of 1847, the mood is unrelentingly sustained across three of the four movements ending with a virtuosic firestorm, a conflagration of musical angst. Connections with his personal life seem compelling.
At this point in his life, Mendelssohn was immensely famous and successful, but overworked, exhausted and in desperate need of rest and recuperation. Word arrived that, Fanny, his cherished sister and intellectual soul mate, had suddenly died of a stroke. Devastated, Mendelssohn took a vacation with friends in Switzerland and composed his final quartet dedicated to her memory. (more…)