Mendelssohn: String Quartets Nos. 2 & 6 Amber Quartet

Album Info

Album Veröffentlichung:


Label: Naxos

Genre: Classical

Subgenre: Chamber Music

Interpret: Amber Quartet

Komponist: Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847)

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  • Felix Mendelssohn (1809 - 1847): String Quartet No. 2 in A Major, Op. 13, MWV R 22:
  • 1Mendelssohn: String Quartet No. 2 in A Major, Op. 13, MWV R 22: I. Adagio. Allegro vivace08:04
  • 2Mendelssohn: String Quartet No. 2 in A Major, Op. 13, MWV R 22: II. Adagio non lento08:11
  • 3Mendelssohn: String Quartet No. 2 in A Major, Op. 13, MWV R 22: III. Intermezzo. Allegretto con moto - Allegro di molto05:21
  • 4Mendelssohn: String Quartet No. 2 in A Major, Op. 13, MWV R 22: IV. Presto. Adagio non lento10:09
  • String Quartet No. 6 in F Minor, Op. 80, MWV R 37:
  • 5Mendelssohn: String Quartet No. 6 in F Minor, Op. 80, MWV R 37: I. Allegro vivace assai07:24
  • 6Mendelssohn: String Quartet No. 6 in F Minor, Op. 80, MWV R 37: II. Allegro assai04:28
  • 7Mendelssohn: String Quartet No. 6 in F Minor, Op. 80, MWV R 37: III. Adagio08:23
  • 8Mendelssohn: String Quartet No. 6 in F Minor, Op. 80, MWV R 37: IV. Finale. Allegro molto05:30
  • 12 Lieder, Op. 9, MWV K 39:
  • 9Mendelssohn: 12 Lieder, Op. 9, MWV K 39: I. Frage (Arr. Y. Yichen for String Quartet)01:38
  • Total Runtime59:08

Info zu Mendelssohn: String Quartets Nos. 2 & 6

"The German composer's output also contains many chamber works that display an emotional intensity, which deserve to be heard by the audience," says Yang Yichen, the cellist of Amber Quartet, who is also a teacher at the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing.

On Friday, the string quartet, one of the best-known in China, released their latest album, Felix Mendelssohn String Quartets, featuring two music works that the composer wrote: String Quartet No 2 in A Minor, Op 13 and String Quartet No 6 in F Minor, Op 80, and a music piece adapted from the composer's art song, 12 Lieder, Op 9: No 1, Frage, which was arranged by Yang for the string quartet.

The album was released by Naxos, and was the first collaboration between Amber Quartet and the classical music label.

"When we were preparing for this new album, we listed some music works by different composers that we love but we decided to record Mendelssohn's string quartet works because few Chinese string quartets did it. His string quartet works are so beautiful and the audience will enjoy them very much," says Ning Fangliang, first violin of Amber Quartet, who also teaches at the Central Conservatory of Music. "We also hope that the audience will learn more about the composer."

Born into a wealthy banking family in Hamburg, Germany, Mendelssohn was a child prodigy akin to Mozart and Beethoven. He composed some of his best works as a teenager. He worked tirelessly during his short life and died in Leipzig, Germany, at the age of 38.

In 1827, Mendelssohn, 18 years old then, was desperately in love with a woman, who was said to be a singer in a choir he accompanied on Friday nights in Berlin. Mendelssohn poses the question "is it true?" in a song inspired by his friend Johann Gustav Droyson's poem titled Frage (German word for "question"), which he composed in 1827 and was published as Op 9, No 1.

A few months after writing the song, Mendelssohn composed his second string quartet, String Quartet No 2 in A Minor, Op 13. The song underlies the entire quartet, as Mendelssohn emphasized when he had the published quartet include the complete song.

"We love Op 13 very much, so it was natural for us to record it in the new album. Since Op 13 and Op 9, No 1 are connected closely, we wanted to have them both recorded. To us, it's academic research to go back to the intention of the composers. To the listeners, it will offer them a clue to better understand the compositional thinking of the composer," says Yang.

"These two works were relatively new to us. When we recorded these two works in April, we had never performed them onstage yet. The process of learning and rehearsing these two pieces was a fresh experience to us since usually we recorded music works that we had performed onstage already," says Ning. "It felt like we worked together in a lab and made something new together."

On June 19, Amber Quartet performed the two pieces at the Forbidden City Concert Hall in Beijing for the first time.

They also played the composer's String Quartet No 6 in F Minor, Op 80 during the concert. In July, they recorded the music piece, which was included in their new album.

String Quartet No 6 in F Minor, Op 80 was not new to Amber Quartet. Indeed, it is one of their most performed music pieces. As students of the Alban Berg Quartett, one of the finest string quartets in the world, they learned the piece when they studied at the International Institute of Chamber Music of Madrid in Spain, as the first chamber music group to receive funding from the Chinese government for overseas studies.

Mendelssohn's Op 80 is one of his few "autobiographical" works, which is a moving musical response to the grief he felt at the death of his sister Fanny in 1847. It was the last major piece he completed when his health deteriorated. He died two months after writing the piece. The music work did not appear in print until after the composer's death.

"When we first learned the music piece, we felt overwhelmed by its energy. It's a very different music piece compared to Mendelssohn's other works. We tried to understand the composer, whose life was about to end. It was beyond music," recalls Yang, adding that he read lots of books on psychology back then, hoping to figure out the most proper way to interpret the music piece. One of the books that Yang read was Staring at the Sun, by master psychotherapist Irvin Yalom.

"The music piece told us how Mendelssohn was confronting and coping with death. It was thought-provoking," Yang says.

"We performed the music piece in Singapore in 2017, the year I returned to Amber Quartet. Thus, it's a very meaningful piece to me personally," says Ma Weijia, one of the two second violinist of Amber Quartet. Ma met cellist Yang and violinist Ning when they studied at the middle school affiliated to the Central Conservatory of Music in 2004. In 2005, they formed the Amber Quartet.

Ma joined the China NCPA Orchestra, the resident orchestra of the National Centre for the Performing Arts, in 2011. From 2013-15, he pursued his study at Hochschule fur Musik Carl Maria von Weber Dresden in Germany.

The quartet also features violist Qi Wang, who, along with Yang, Ning and Su Yajing, another second violinist of Amber Quartet, traveled to Spain to study from 2013 to 2015.

As they recall, it was very "stressful" yet "rewarding" experience in Spain. They practiced for about 10 hours every day and faced pressure from their peers and themselves.

One day, during rehearsal, Qi made a mistake in his performance which became a breaking point. When the other members pointed out his mistake, Qi was so angry that he threw his bow away. Accidentally, the bow hit Ning on her head. After giving Qi an angry look, Ning broke Qi's bow into two pieces.

"We often compare a string quartet to a four-person marriage. We face many challenges to keep us going together as a quartet, such as the rigors of touring, the demands of constant practice, heated negotiations about programming and interpretation," says Yang, who talked with Qi for hours to calm him down and convince him about going on doing rehearsals. Ning went back home and relieved pressure through cooking, especially chopping. Su was scared and cried.

"Luckily, we share common goals that would sustain us musically into the future," says Yang.

In 2013, Amber Quartet was awarded three prizes at the Asia-Pacific Chamber Music Competition, in Melbourne, Australia: the Grand Prize, the String Quartet Division prize and the prize for best interpretation of a contemporary work — Chinese composer Zhang Zhao's String Quartet No 1, Totem. It was the first time that a Chinese string quartet won the international competition.

"We went through various competitions throughout our career, ever since we started learning music. It's normal to win awards. After the applause, we move forward," says Qi, also a teacher at the Central Conservatory of Music.

Amber Quartet

Amber Quartet
Founded in 2005 at the Central Conservatory of Music, the Amber Quartet, who represents the highest level of chamber music in China, has created history of Chinese chamber music for multiple time: the first Chinese chamber ensemble winning the highest award in an international chamber music competition, the first and only Chinese inheritor of the legendary Alban Berg Quartet, the first public-funded Chinese chamber ensemble entering the Instituto International de Música de Cámara at the Escuela Superior de Musica Reina Sofia de Madrid and graduating with full credit, the first and only Chinese chamber ensemble invited by the renowned McGill International String Quartet Academy (MISQA), and the first professional string quartet listed in China National Art Foundation

As the most influential professional Chinese chamber ensemble, the Amber Quartet has received multiple awards, including the highest awards and the best interpretation of modern works in ASIA-PACIFIC Chamber Music Competition, the silver medal in Chinese Golden Bell Music Competition, and the Central Conservatory Chamber Music Competition. After the establishment, the Amber Quartet has had concert appearances internationally, leaving footsteps in concert halls throughout the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Spain, Denmark, Australia, Canada, Japan, Korea, and China.

The Amber Quartet has also received interviews by numerous medias worldwide, such as the flagship music magazine "The Strad", Xinhua News Agency, China National Radio, Australia ABC Radio, Australia SBS Radio, Spain National Radio, Oberösterreichische Rundschau, Spain Euro-Chinese Times, Beijing News, Guangzhou Daily, Music Times, Club Magazine, etc.

The Amber Quartet has also devoted to academic and research field and they were proved to be capable and visionary. The Amber Quartet has performed over one hundred works of string quartet covering the history of Western music for over four hundred years. Meanwhile, the Amber Quartet pays great attention on promoting Chinese chamber compositions. In recent years, the Amber Quartet has collaborated with composers and musicians in traditional Chinese music and premiered many chamber works that combine Western and Eastern elements. In 2018, the Amber Quartet and Professor Lan Pan in musicology from Central Conservatory of Music co-founded the innovative key research project Deep Integration of Performance and Theory. Based on the high-level musicality and academic achievement, the Amber Quartet was selected in the 2019 Youth Talent Funding Program of China National Art Foundation.

Members of the Amber Quartet have multiple achievements in music education. Fangliang Ning, Yajing Su, Wang Qi, Yichen Yang are formal teachers at Central Conservatory of Music in chamber music and string performance. Starting from 2015 they have taught over forty students who won awards in various chamber and solo competitions. Besides regular teaching, they encouraged and led students in public welfare activities including High-end Music Entering College benefit concert and benefit lectures at NCPA, which received positive social responses. Members of the Amber Quartet have committed themselves to the popularization of classical music through Amber Quartet Concert Plus, an integrated and creative lecture-concert series aiming at fostering mass audience to appreciate classical music.

The Amber Quartet studied under Professor Yun Chen and Professor Bing Yu from Central Conservatory of Music, and Professor Günter Pichler from Alban Berg Quartet in Spain. The Amber Quartet was also coached by a number of world-renowned chamber artists including Gerhard Schulz, Valentin Erben, Michael Tree, Harald Schoneweg, Wolfgang Jahn, Hanxiang Gong, etc.

Members of the Amber Quartet perform on four ancient Italian instruments generously loaned by Hong Kong China Foundation. The renowned French case manufacture BAM has generously sponsored the Amber Quartet with their instrument cases. Starting from 2018, the Amber Quartet has signed with the publisher G. Henle and adopted its free score support service.

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