Mendelssohn & Enescu – Octets for strings

‘The exultant, virtuoso spirit of Mendelssohn’s Octet comes surging off the page in this all-star live performance. […] There is an engaging vitality and sense of inspiration caught on the wing from Tetzlaff and colleagues that is just that extra bit special. […] The ripely expressive, urgently spontaneous and masterfully played account from Avi Music’s remarkable line-up is quite simply in a class of its own.’

— The Strad

Though there are not many in the repertoire to begin with, two of the finest examples of octets for strings (double quartet) were written by composers still in their teenage years.

Felix Mendelssohn

Mendelssohn’s Octet in E flat major, Op. 20, completed at age 16, is by far the most frequently performed and finest example of the genre. Each of the eight instruments has a singular, independent voice through much of the four movements.

Ori Kam (viola), Rachel Roberts (viola), Christian Tetzlaff (violin), Tanja Tetzlaff (cello), Antje Weithaas (violin), Lisa Batiashvili (violin), Isabelle Faust (violin), Quirine Viersen (cello)

George Enescu

Another brilliant octet by 19-year-old George Enescu more frequently resorts to octaves and unisons as each of its four movements seem to demonstrate the many influences that were to play a part in Enescu’s development.

Katharine Gowers (violin), Antoine Tamestit (viola), Gustav Rivinius (cello), Antje Weithaas (violin), Quirine Viersen (cello), Christian Tetzlaff (violin), Rachel Roberts (viola), Isabelle Faust (violin)

Live recording from Lars Vogt’s ‘Spannungen’ Festival

‘The live performance of the Mendelssohn Octet is superb.’

— AllMusic

‘The Mendelssohn Octet is played with unmatched clarity and exuberance.’

— Arkiv Music