The Mendelssohn String Quartet
Franz Joseph Haydn: Quartet in D major, Op. 20, No. 4
Felix Mendelssohn: Quintet for strings in B flat, Op. 87
Franz Joseph Haydn and the String Quartet
In the classical string quartet as established by Haydn and his successor Mozart in the mid- to late 1700s, the instrumentation is fixed to what we consider the "standard" grouping - two violins, viola and cello, and the musical texture is distributed equitably among the four parts. Haydn’s "Sun Quartets" (Op. 20), including the selection played by the Mendelssohn String Quartet on this program, mark an important milestone in the use of this balanced texture. The fugal finales of three of the six quartets in Op. 20 hark back to older forms, but otherwise the quartets are forward-looking in their great expressiveness, rhythmic interest and use of harmonic tension - hallmarks of Haydn’s extraordinary inventiveness.