The Strad Issue: January 2013
Description: A generally successful first volume in a Mendelssohn cycle
Musicians: Maggini Quartet
Composer: Mendelssohn

Having gained much critical acclaim in the field of rarely recorded British music, the Maggini Quartet is spreading its wings with this first release in a projected cycle of Mendelssohn’s works for string quartet. It is obvious from the robust opening movement of the E minor Quartet that this will not be the genteel approach to the composer we remember from yesteryear. There is an abundance of drama and red-blooded passion that spills over into the players’ hard-driven scherzo and exciting finale.

The sense of spontaneous creativity continues through their interpretation of the F minor Quartet, where their sensitive approach to the Adagio provides a moment of peace within a suitably bleak and despairing mood for outer movements that convey the composer’s angst following the death of his sister.

Although not overly generous in content, the disc ends with a nicely paced account of the Capriccio from the Four Pieces that were collected together after Mendelssohn’s death as his op.80. But the Maggini is entering a highly competitive market, and the disc is not without worries regarding intonation, most notably in the slow movement of op.44 no.2. The disc’s closely recorded sound could have benefited from a little more warmth.