Zemlinsky Quartet

Mendelssohn: String Quartets Op. 44 Nos. 1, 3

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Continuing on its survey of the Mendelssohn string chamber works, the Zemlinsky Quartet returns on the Praga label for this installment of the string quartets Op. 44/1 and 3. These two central quartets still bear the influence of Haydn and Beethoven and are largely written in the classical tradition. Mendelssohn brings forth his own unique penchant for vibrancy, transparency, and intricacy of inner voice writing. This album also includes the lesser-known movements of Op. 81 (nos. 1 and 2 in this case), which are drawn from a set of five unrelated shorts that were later brought together by a publisher into a single opus. As in past installments, the quartet brings many ideal attributes to its Mendelssohn performance. The sound is lean and bright, offering exceptional clarity in even the most actively scored sections of the quartets. Polished intonation, meticulous articulation, and careful control over dynamics enhance the Zemlinsky's enthusiastically upbeat performances of these generally lighthearted, sunny compositions. The choice of tempo tends to be on the brisk side of the spectrum, but the group executes the fast movements with ample control and nuance resulting in riveting, exciting performances. Praga's SACD is clear but not too bright, spacious but not too resonant.

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