Felix Mendelssohn (03.02.1809 – 04.11.1847) was a German composer, pianist, organist and conductor of the early romantic period. During his short life, Mendelssohn wrote a number of symphonies, concertos, oratorios, piano works and some chamber music. His best-known works include his incidental music for A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the Hebrides Overture, Op. 26, his Italian and Scottish symphonies, his Violin Concerto in E minor, Op. 64 and his Octet in E flat major, Op. 20.
Mendelssohn’s Octet in E-flat major, Op. 20, was composed in the autumn of 1825 when the composer was just 16 years old. In his notes on works by Mendelssohn, Conrad Wilson states that “Its youthful verve, brilliance and perfection make it one of the miracles of nineteenth-century music.” I couldn’t put it better myself!
The work lasts about half an hour and comprises of four movements:
- Allegro moderato ma con fuoco (E-flat major)
- Andante (C minor)
- Scherzo: Allegro leggierissimo (G minor)
- Presto (E-flat major).
Listen carefully to the finale where Mendelssohn quotes the melody of “And he shall reign forever and ever” from the “Hallelujah Chorus” of Handel’s Messiah.
We have selected a 1968 performance by members of the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields who bring all the excitement and energy of this gloriously youthful piece to life in a clear, well balanced and thoroughly convincing recording.