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Tasting Music 2 — Mendelssohn, String Quartet in F minor, Op. 80

  • Pepper Bridge Winery 1704 J B George Road Walla Walla, WA, 99362 United States (map)

Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847)
String Quartet in F minor, Op. 80
1   Allegro vivace assai
2   Allegro assai
3   Adagio
4   Finale: Allegro molto

Felix Mendelssohn enjoyed a life of privilege compared to many of his colleagues in the canon of great composers. He had a loving family who gave him every opportunity. Sundays at the Mendelssohn household came complete with a full orchestra assembled to play through young Felix and his sister Fanny’s newest compositions. As a teenager, Mendelssohn churned out a baker’s dozen of String Symphonies, each a gem in its own right, not to mention the masterful Octet and the evocative incidental music to Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. In young adulthood, Mendelssohn would be received by royalty such as Queen Victoria of England, who Mendelssohn accompanied in songs of his own composition (and Fanny’s, though she was not permitted to publish). The narrative would suggest that Felix, a genius to be sure, led a charmed life.

Tasting Music 2 explores his final work, the String Quartet in F minor, Op. 80. Here we find a very different Mendelssohn. Wracked with grief over the death of his beloved sister, Mendelssohn saw his own health decline rapidly. On hiatus to recover in Switzerland, Mendelssohn turned his attention to the medium of the string quartet. His Op. 80 is a work of almost unrelenting anxiety. Through this work we have a glimpse of the composer Mendelssohn might have become had he lived longer. Though inconsolable, Mendelssohn gives us a work of supreme beauty and virtuosity that will leave you breathless. WWCMF returns to Pepper Bridge Winery for this special performance.

Artists: Timothy Christie, viola; Andrew Jennings, violin; Norbert Lewandowski, cello; and Maria Sampen, violin.

Commentary: Timothy Christie

Doors open at 5:00pm