Programme Guide

The first movement of Felix Mendelssohn’s Second String Quintet begins in a spirited and ardent way: with an impulsive violin solo that offers the first violinist an opportunity to present his virtuoso proficiency above the other instruments’ tremolo. This is not surprising, since the large-scale work with an orchestral manner was written for the Leipzig concertmaster Ferdinand David, who requested a work “in Stilo moltissimo concertissimo” from Mendelssohn.

In this chamber concert with Artist in Residence Christian Tetzlaff and four string players from the Berliner Philharmoniker, Mendelssohn’s String Quintet No. 2 is followed by the G major Quintet op. 111 by Johannes Brahms. Its opening movement also begins with an almost orchestral soundscape of tremolo sound, whereby here not the violin but the cello is in the foreground.

Brahms touches here on the polka mazur Frauenherz by Josef Strauss, very popular at the time; finally, “waltz motives and fragments wiggle out of every part of the Allegro like little lizards glancing curiously, slipping gracefully back to their hiding places as soon as you try to catch them” (Max Kalbeck). The first violin – with music that reminds one of Johann Strauss’s waltz Wein, Weib und Gesang – spreads the happiness of Vienna’s Prater, while the Finale with Csárdás sounds owes a lot to a typically “Hungarian” tone colour. The evening concludes with several pieces from Béla Bartók’s 44 Duos for two violins, in which the Hungarian composer integrated the results of his musical folklore research.

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