Felix Mendelssohn

String Quartet No. 6 in F minor, Op. 80

    Description by Joseph Stevenson

    This is usually listed as string quartet no 6, which is correct in terms of order of composition. It was written in the composer's last year. Naturally, it is an elegantly conceived composition. But it is also remarkable in that here the Mendelssohn's ordinary sense of emotional reserve collapses completely. Ordinarly showing the surface coolness of a man born into the upper classes, Mendelssohn's facade dissolves entirely, showing despair and rage. The reason is obvious: He returned home from Leipzig (where he was employed as conductor) in May, and learned of the death of his sister Fanny, four years his elder, an excellent musician and composer in her own right who was his closest confidante. He wrote this, his last great work, in July as a "Requiem for Fanny." When he returned to Leipzig, his friends found that he had changed; their description of his appearance and listlessness suggests what we would call severe depression. He took time off to visit his sister's grave in Berlin, and returned even more disturbed in mood. He could not conduct. At the end of October he suffered what appeared to be a small stroke. Further attacks followed and he died on November 4. There are few works in music which seem so firmly linked to the composer's death. Armed with knowledge and hindsight, the listener fancies that he can almost hear it coming. It is not out of bounds to say that he died of grief for his sister, and this quartet expresses that grief and pessimism so strongly that, for once, Mendelssohn reveals more of himself than even Schumann would have. A masterpiece torn from the heart, and essential to a string quartet collection.

    Parts/Movements

    1. Allegro vivace assai
    2. Allegro assai
    3. Adagio
    4. Finale. Allegro molto

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2018 Hänssler Classic HC 18021
    2018 Chandos CHAN 201222
    2018 Somm SOMMCD 0182
    2018 Signum Classics SIGCD 551
    2018 Resonus RES 10215
    2016 Deutsche Grammophon 4795982
    2016 BIS BIS 2160
    2016 Alto MCS 1303
    2015 Audite AUDITE 21436
    2014 Champs Hill Records CHRCD 085
    2014 Erato 542250
    2014 Erato 2564636690
    2013 Erato / Virgin Classics 5099946454
    2013 La Dolce Volta LDV 1157
    2013 Meridian Records CDE 84618
    2012 Deutsche Grammophon 4779966
    2012 Deutsche Grammophon
    2012 Audite AUDITE 92657
    2012 Acanta 233596
    2011 CPO 7775032
    2011 Genuin GEN11204
    2010 Mirare 120
    2010 Praga 250267
    2009 NCA 60205
    2009 Marquis Records MARQUIS81405
    2009 Foghorn 1983
    2009 Sony Music Entertainment 88697420722
    2009 Brilliant Classics 93888
    2008 Naxos 8570001
    2008 Arte Nova Classics 82876640092
    2008 Brilliant Classics 93672
    2007 Calliope 5313
    2007 Zig Zag Territoires ZZT030702
    2007 ATMA Classique 2501
    2007 EMI Classics 00857
    2007 ASV GLD4025
    2006 Oxingale Records 2006
    2006 ASV / Sanctuary 404
    2005 Arte Nova 965210
    2005 Arts Music 47130
    2005 Oehms 528
    2005 EMI Classics 86104
    2005 Harmonia Mundi 907288
    2005 Deutsche Grammophon
    2005 Deutsche Grammophon 000388802
    2004 ASV 712
    2004 Calliope 9313
    2004 Calliope 3311/3
    2004 Brilliant 92393
    2003 Amati AMI 2102
    2003 Brilliant 99983
    2003 Decca
    2003 Decca 473255
    2003 EMI Music Distribution 585294-2
    2001 Pavane 7442
    2000 Parnassus Records PRNCD 96024
    1997 ASV 6173
    1994 Hyperion 44051/3
    1994 Naxos 550861
    1993 Denon Records 79527
    1992 Hyperion 66579
    Oxingale Records 1499
    Accord 201132
    MDG 3071056
    Accord 200342
    Brilliant Classics 93672/20
    Brilliant 92393/20
    Cedille Records 82
    Seize The Music STM 090611