String Quintet No. 2 in B flat Op. 87

Composer: Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy (b. 1809 - d. 1847)
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Composer: Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy (b. 1809 - d. 1847)

Performance date: 05/07/2009

Venue: Bantry Library

Composition Year: 1845

Duration: 00:29:16

Recording Engineer: Anton Timoney, RTÉ lyric fm

Instrumentation Category:String Quintet

Instrumentation Other: 2vn, va, vc, va

Artists: Roland Glassl - [viola]
RTÉ Vanbrugh Quartet (Gregory Ellis, Keith Pascoe [violins], Simon Aspell [viola], Christopher Marwood [cello]) - [quartet]

String Quintet No. 2 in B flat Op. 87

Mendelssohn’s first quintet is full of youthful
exuberance and the second is more thoughtful and restrained, but both share the
same structural principles and style. The opening of the first movement of the
second quintet appears to be an attempt to recapture the sparkling freshness
and atmosphere of his youthful masterpiece, the String Octet, which he wrote in
1825 for there is a strong similarity in the outline of the themes of the two
works. In the sonata form first movement the violins play a triadic theme above
a tremolo accompaniment, which is interrupted by a triplet figure that
eventually returns accompanying the contrasting cantabile theme. After a development section rich in tonal,
textural and dynamic contrast, Mendelssohn uses additional contrapuntal
techniques in the recapitulation to further expand the two principal themes.


The light, playful second movement is typical of
Mendelssohn’s scherzos. He achieves this quality through alternating pizzicato
and arco writing, and by treating a staccato melody fugally. The music shifts
between major and minor modes, thus creating harmonic variety.


The third movement is in D minor and is in direct
contrast with the previous movement, replacing counterpoint and frivolity with
a chordal texture and dramatic harmonies and melodies. The varied dynamics and
instrumental effects create an impression that is almost symphonic in concept,
and the movement demonstrates Mendelssohn’s skill in treating typically
Romantic harmonic and instrumental colour with a Classical refinement and
balance. The finale returns the work to its original light-hearted state, the
violins and violas in particular propelling the movement with their bustling