Nomad String Quartet – Mendelssohn String Quartets
Although Mendelssohn may not be as famous as Mozart or Beethoven, he was no less influential.
Back in the nineteenth century, most concert programs were dominated by composers who were alive at the time (very much unlike today!) Mendelssohn, however, chose to resurrect the music of J.S. Bach, who had died sixty years before Mendelssohn was born. Bach is now regarded as the father of western art music (‘classical’ music), a status which owes a significant debt of gratitude to Mendelssohn’s bold programming choices.
Mendelssohn was also a formidable composer, and second only to Mozart in precociousness – he wrote some of his most famous music while he was still a teenager! These two quartets are from his Opus 44, which he wrote in his late twenties, shortly after marrying his beloved Cécile.
String Quartet No. 4 is in E minor and is laced through with deep passion and drama. Melancholic moments envelope a beautiful slow movement that we interpret as a ‘song without words’ – Mendelssohn was a master at making instruments sing. By contrast, the composer called his third quartet ‘spirited’ – it certainly does dance away into the sunset!