Edward Arron and Friends
Friday June 23 8:00pm

Edward Arron & Friends

Overview

This performance will be moved to Venetian Theater due to inclement weather.

Please pick up your adjusted tickets at the Venetian Theater Box Office upon arrival.
Contact the Box Office at 914.232.1252 or boxoffice@caramoor.org if you have any questions.


If variety is the spice of life, then this evening’s program promises to be particularly piquante. Cellist Edward Arron offers another of his popular chamber music concerts joined by his colleagues and companions—many of which are fellow Evnin Rising Stars alumni—for a diverse program of quintets, sextets, and much more, spanning over 200 years of music. Celebrate a musical summer evening under the stars.

“My goal as a programmer is…to provide an experience that is completely unique to the time and space that our live performance inhabits.” – Edward Arron
Artists

Andrew Armstrong, piano
Jeewon Park, piano
Jesse Mills, violin
Arnaud Sussmann, violin and viola
Max Mandel, viola
Edward Arron, cello
Shawn Conley, double bass

Program

Mendelssohn Hebrides Overture, Op. 26, (arr. for Piano Four Hands, Violin, and Cello)
Vaughan Williams Piano Quintet in C Minor (1903)
Purcell Selected Fantasias for Strings
Mendelssohn Sextet in D Major for Piano and Strings, Op. 110

Getting to Caramoor

Taking the train? We’ll give you a lift! Free Metro-North Katonah Shuttle beginning at 6:00pm.

Wine Champagne Reception for Composers Circle Members after the performance.

Enhance your Caramoor experience.

Pre-Order Picnic Boxes

Let us pack your picnic for you! For heartier options, no lines, and the ease of ordering a picnic in advance this summer, consider choosing from our special picnic boxes offered by our caterer, Great Performances. View the menu and order by noting how many of each option you would like after selecting your seats for Edward Arron & Friends. Confirm by selecting "Add to Cart."

Already purchased your tickets? You can still pre-order your picnic by ordering online (be sure to select June 23) or by calling the Box Office at 914.232.1252.

Order by Tuesday at 5:00pm for the upcoming week's performance.
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Andrew Armstrong

Andrew Armstrong, piano

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Praised by critics for his passionate expression and dazzling technique, pianist Andrew Armstrong has delighted audiences across Asia, Europe, Latin America, Canada, and the United States, including performances at Alice Tully Hall, Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, the Grand Hall of the Moscow Conservatory, and Warsaw’s National Philharmonic.

Andrew’s orchestral engagements across the globe have seen him perform a sprawling repertoire of more than 50 concertos with orchestra. He has performed with such conductors as Peter Oundjian, Itzhak Perlman, Günther Herbig, Stefan Sanderling, JeanMarie Zeitouni, and Stanislaw Skrowaczewski, and has appeared in solo recitals in chamber music concerts with the Elias, Alexander, American, and Manhattan String Quartets, and also as a member of the Caramoor Virtuosi, Boston Chamber Music Society, Seattle Chamber Music Society, and the Jupiter Symphony Chamber Players.

Andrew Armstrong has performed with the Elias, Alexander, American, and Manhattan String Quartets, is also as a member of the Caramoor Virtuosi, Boston Chamber Music Society, Seattle Chamber Music Society, and the Jupiter Symphony Chamber Players.

Andrew’s debut solo CD featuring Rachmaninov’s Second Piano Sonata and Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition was released to great critical acclaim: “I have heard few pianists play [Rachmaninov’s Second Piano Sonata], recorded or in concert, with such dazzling clarity and confidence” (American Record Guide). He has released several award-winning recordings with his longtime recital partner James Ehnes, including 3 volumes of the music of Béla Bartók, Prokofiev’s Violin Sonatas Nos. 1 &2 and Five Melodies, Tartini’s Devil’s Trill and Leclair’s Tambourin Sonata, a recital disc of works by Franck and Strauss, as well as an upcoming release featuring pieces by Debussy, Elgar, and Respighi (Onyx Classics).

Andrew is devoted to outreach programs and playing for children. In addition to his many concerts, his performances are heard regularly on National Public Radio and WQXR, New York City’s premier classical music station.

Mr. Armstrong lives happily in Massachusetts, with his wife Esty, their two children, two dogs, two guinea pigs, and two fish.

 


Jeewon Park

Jeewon Park, piano

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Praised for her “deeply reflective playing” (Indianapolis Star) and “infectious exuberance” (The New York Times), Korean-born pianist Jeewon Park has garnered the attention of audiences for her dazzling technique and poetic lyricism. Since making her debut at the age of 12 performing Chopin’s First Concerto with the Korean Symphony Orchestra, Ms. Park has performed in such prestigious venues as Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall, Merkin Hall, 92nd Street Y, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Kravis Center, and Seoul Arts Center in Korea.

In recent seasons, Ms. Park continues to perform at major concert halls across the U.S. and Korea. She performed as a soloist with the Hwa Eum Chamber Orchestra in the Inaugural Festival of the IBK Chamber Hall at the Seoul Arts Center, as well as at engagements at the Metropolitan Museum’s Grace Rainey Rogers Auditorium, Tilles Center for the Performing Arts, Vilar Performing Arts Center, and Kumho Art Hall in Seoul among others. In addition, she makes return appearances to the Caramoor Music Festival as an alumna of the Evnin Rising Stars program, the Bridgehampton Chamber Music Festival, and the Seattle Chamber Music Festival.

Jeewon Park made her debut at the age of 12 performing Chopin’s First Concerto with the Korean Symphony Orchestra

Ms. Park has been heard in numerous live broadcasts on National Public Radio and New York’s Classical Radio Station, WQXR. Additionally, her performances have been nationally broadcast throughout Korea on KBS television. She came to the U.S. in 2002, after having won all the major competitions in Korea, most notably Joong-Ang and KBS competitions.

Ms. Park is a graduate of The Juilliard School and Yale University, where she was awarded the Dean Horatio Parker Prize. She holds the DMA degree from SUNY Stony Brook. Her teachers include Young-Ho Kim, Herbert Stessin, Claude Frank and Gilbert Kalish.

 


Edward Arron & Friends: Jesse Mills

Jesse Mills, violin

Two-time Grammy nominated violinist Jesse Mills enjoys performing music of many genres, from classical to contemporary, as well as composed and improvised music of his own invention.

Since his concerto debut at the Ravinia Festival in Chicago, Mr. Mills has performed throughout the U.S. and Canada. He has been a soloist with the Phoenix Symphony, the Colorado Symphony, the New Jersey Symphony, the Green Bay Symphony, Juilliard Chamber Orchestra, the Denver Philharmonic, the Teatro Argentino Orchestra (in Buenos Aires, Argentina), and the Aspen Music Festival’s Sinfonia Orchestra.

As a chamber musician Jesse Mills has performed throughout the U.S. and Canada, including concerts at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall, Carnegie Hall, the 92nd Street Y, the Metropolitan Museum, the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, Boston’s Gardener Museum, Chicago’s Ravinia Festival, and the Marlboro Music Festival. He has also appeared at prestigious venues in Europe, such as the Barbican Centre of London, La Cité de la Musique in Paris, Amsterdam’s Royal Carré Theatre, Teatro Arcimboldi in Milan, and the Palais des Beaux Arts in Brussels. Mills is co-founder of Horszowski Trio and Duo Prism, a violin-piano duo with Rieko Aizawa, which earned 1st Prize at the Zinetti International Competition in Italy in 2006. With Ms. Aizawa, Mills became co-artistic director of the Alpenglow Chamber Music Festival in Colorado in 2010.

Jesse Mills is a two-time Grammy nominated violinist and has performed solo and in chamber ensembles around the world.

Mills is also known as a pioneer of contemporary works, a renowned improvisational artist, as well as a composer. He earned Grammy nominations for his performances of Arnold Schoenberg’s music, released by NAXOS in 2005 and 2010. He can also be heard on the Koch, Centaur, Tzadik, Max Jazz and Verve labels for various compositions of Webern, Schoenberg, Zorn, Wuorinen, and others. As a member of the FLUX Quartet from 2001-2003, Mills performed music composed during the last 50 years, in addition to frequent world premieres. As a composer and arranger, Mills has been commissioned by venues including Columbia University’s Miller Theater, the Chamber Music Northwest festival in Portland, OR and the Bargemusic in NYC.

Jesse Mills began violin studies at the age of three. He graduated with a Bachelor of Music degree from The Juilliard School in 2001. He studied with Dorothy DeLay, Robert Mann and Itzhak Perlman. Mr. Mills lives in New York City, and he is on the faculty at Longy School of Music of Bard College and at New York University. In 2010 the Third Street Music School Settlement in NYC honored him with the ‘Rising Star Award’ for musical achievement.

 


Arnaud Sussmann

Arnaud Sussmann, violin and viola

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Winner of a 2009 Avery Fisher Career Grant, Arnaud Sussmann has distinguished himself with his unique sound, bravura and profound musicianship. Minnesota’s Pioneer Press writes, “Sussmann has an old-school sound reminiscent of what you’ll hear on vintage recordings by Jascha Heifetz or Fritz Kreisler, a rare combination of sweet and smooth that can hypnotize a listener. His clear tone is a thing of awe-inspiring beauty, his phrasing spellbinding.”

Arnaud Sussmann makes debuts in the 2016-17 season with the Vancouver Symphony on Brahms Concerto with Cristian Macelaru, Pacific Symphony on Mozart Violin Concerto No. 3 with Carl St. Clair, and Alabama Symphony on Brahms Concerto with Carlos Izcaray, amongst other orchestras. He performs Chausson Concerto for Violin, Piano and String Quartet at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and a Czech-themed recital program with pianist Michael Brown at Columbia University’s Italian Academy Teatro in New York.

“[Arnaud Sussman’s] clear tone is a thing of awe-inspiring beauty, his phrasing spellbinding.”

Sussmann has performed with many of today’s leading artists including Itzhak Perlman, Menahem Pressler, Gary Hoffman, Shmuel Ashkenazi, Wu Han, David Finckel, Jan Vogler and members of the Emerson String Quartet. A dedicated chamber musician, he has been a member of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center since 2006 and has appeared with them in New York and concerts at London’s Wigmore Hall, Korea’s LG Arts Center, Shanghai’s Oriental Center, and the Beijing Modern Music Festival.

Born in Strasbourg, France and based now in New York City, Arnaud Sussmann trained at the Conservatoire de Paris and the Juilliard School with Boris Garlitsky and Itzhak Perlman and was named a Starling Fellow in 2006, an honor which allowed him to be Mr. Perlman’s teaching assistant for two years. In September 2015, Sussmann returned to his native France to work closely with violinist Kolja Blacher and the Orchestre de Chambre de Paris for intensive training on the play-direct technique, where he then won First prize of the Orchestre de Chambre de Paris’s Paris Play/Direct Academy.

Arnaud Sussmann is represented for worldwide general management with Charlotte Lee at Primo Artists.

 


Max Mandel

Max Mandel, viola

Violist Max Mandel enjoys a varied and acclaimed career as a chamber musician, soloist, orchestral musician and speaker. He is the Co-Principal Viola of The Orchestra of The Age of Enlightenment. He is also a member of the trailblazing ensembles The FLUX quartet and The Knights. He has appeared as guest Principal with The Chamber Orchestra of Europe, The Australian Chamber Orchestra, The Canadian Opera Company Orchestra and the Handel & Haydn Society amongst others.

Other group affiliations include The Smithsonian Chamber Players, Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra and The Silk Road Ensemble. His most recent record with FLUX Quartet features the work of Morton Feldman on Mode Records. Mr. Mandel’s newest venture is his lecture series Chamber Talk.

Born and raised in Toronto, Canada he divides his time between New York and London. He plays a 1973 Giovanni Batista Morassi generously loaned to him by Lesley Robertson of the St. Lawrence Quartet.

Max Mandel is a founding member of The Knights as well as being affiliated with The Orchestra of The Age of Enlightenment, Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble, The Smithsonian Chamber Players, and more.

 


Edward Arron & Friends: Edward Arron

Edward Arron, cello and Artistic Director of Edward Arron & Friends

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Cellist Edward Arron has garnered recognition worldwide for his elegant musicianship, impassioned performances, and creative programming. A native of Cincinnati, Ohio, Mr. Arron made his New York recital debut in 2000 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Since that time, he has appeared in recital, as a soloist with major orchestras, and as a chamber musician throughout North America, Europe and Asia.

In 2013, Mr. Arron completed a ten-year residency as the artistic director of the critically acclaimed Metropolitan Museum Artists in Concert, a chamber music series created in 2003 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Museum’s prestigious Concerts and Lectures series. Currently, he is the artistic director, host, and resident performer of the Musical Masterworks concert series in Old Lyme, Connecticut, as well as the Festival Series in Beaufort, South Carolina and Chamber Music on Main at the Columbia Museum in Columbia, SC. Additionally, Mr. Arron curates a series, “Edward Arron and Friends,” at Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts, and is the co-artistic director along with his wife, pianist Jeewon Park, of the new Performing Artists in Residence series at the Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, Massachusetts.

Edward Arron is currently an artistic leader of the Musical MasterworksChamber Music on Main at the Columbia Museum, our own “Edward Arron and Friends,” and the Performing Artists in Residence series at the Clark Art Institute in Massachusetts.

Mr. Arron has performed numerous times at Carnegie’s Weill and Zankel Halls, Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully and Avery Fisher Halls, New York’s Town Hall, and the 92nd Street Y, and is a frequent performer at Bargemusic. Festival appearances include Ravinia, Salzburg, Mostly Mozart, Bravo! Vail, Tanglewood, Bridgehampton, Spoleto USA, Santa Fe, Seattle Chamber Music, Kuhmo (Finland), PyeongChang, Charlottesville, Telluride Musicfest, Seoul Spring, Lake Champlain Chamber Music, Chesapeake Chamber Music, and Bard Music Festival. He has participated in Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Project as well as Isaac Stern’s Jerusalem Chamber Music Encounters.

Edward Arron began playing the cello at age seven in Cincinnati and continued his studies in New York with Peter Wiley. He is a graduate of the Juilliard School, where he was a student of Harvey Shapiro. Mr. Arron joined the faculty at University of Massachusetts Amherst in 2016, and has served on the faculty of New York University since 2009.

 


Shawn Conley

Shawn Conley, double bass

Bassist Shawn Conley loves playing a variety of musical genres. Recent projects include the 2016 Grammy Award-winning CD Sing Me Home with the Silk Road Ensemble and Yo-Yo Ma; multiple performances of the opera Layla and Majnun with the Mark Morris Dance Group and Silk Road; and US and European tours with French jazz singer phenom Cyrille Aimée. Shawn is also a member of the Brooklyn-based chamber orchestra The Knights, and can be heard on their new record Azul, featuring Yo-Yo Ma.

As a studio musician, he has played on multiple soundtracks including True Grit, Moonrise Kingdom, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, Free State of Jones, and the HBO series Mildred Pierce.

Shawn was born and raised in Hawaii. He studied at Rice University with Paul Ellison and in Paris, France with Francois Rabbath. Shawn currently lives in Brooklyn, NY with his wife Megan, and is eagerly awaiting the arrival of their first child. It’s a Boy.

FELIX MENDELSSOHN
1809-1847

Hebrides Overture (Fingal’s Cave), Opus 26 arranged for two pianos, violin, and cello

About the Composer

The case of Mendelssohn allows us a glimpse into the mysteries of musical genius afforded by only a few other youthful masters (Mozart and Schubert come to mind). Though both Mozart and Schubert traveled farther on their musical paths after a precocious beginning, neither of them had produced, before their eighteenth year, a work as brilliant as Mendelssohn’s Octet (composed when he was sixteen) or the overture to A Midsummer Night’s Dream (written a year later).

Mendelssohn had every opportunity to develop his musical culture once his talent became evident. His father (a successful banker) provided the best teachers available in Berlin and organized regular Sunday musicales in the Mendelssohn house, engaging performers from the orchestra of the royal court. It was for these events that the boy began to write music himself and to learn important lessons in musical structure and effect by hearing performances almost as soon as the ink was dry. Just as he was entering into his teens, he turned out a remarkable assortment of twelve string symphonies in just over half a year. This was only a small part of his output of juvenilia, ranging from chamber music to modest orchestral works to small operas actually performed in the household (one of these is called The Uncle from Boston!). Thus, by the time of his travel to the United Kingdom, he was already a composer of considerable experience.

At a Glance

A great letter writer, Felix Mendelssohn sent his family regular reports of his impressions and activities, embellished with charming and skillful drawings. In the summer of 1829 he and a friend made a tour of Scotland that included a visit to Fingal’s Cave, a celebrated sea cave in the basalt lava on the southwestern shore of Staffa, in the island group known as the Inner Hebrides. The roar of the waves, the clear air, the cries of sea birds, and the impressive rock formations were a powerful stimulant. “In order to make you understand how extraordinarily the Hebrides affected me,” he wrote on August 7, 1829, “the following came into my mind there,” and he wrote out twenty-one measures of music that correspond to the beginning of his overture.

About the Work

Though it took another sixteen months to complete, he perfectly captured the uncanny effect of the Hebridean landscape. Once he had finished it, Mendelssohn had to decide what to call it. The term “tone poem,” which we might find most appropriate, had not yet been invented, and it was certainly not a symphony. Instead, he called it an overture, because it was a single movement for orchestra cast in sonata form, like the overtures of Mozart or Beethoven, though it does not actually precede and introduce a larger work, as the term “overture” implies. It was thus the very first example of the “concert overture,” a genre that became quite popular in the romantic era. This arrangement is by Carl Burchard, a student of Mendelssohn’s, who lived from 1815-1903.

A Deeper Listen

The wonder of Mendelssohn’s score is the constant freshness and flexibility of his invention. The opening figure of his first theme recurs many times—but almost every time its appearance differs after a single measure. The freedom that he takes in the working out of this idea and its sequels is not the freedom that comes with “rule-breaking” for its own sake, but a freedom derived from a firm vision of the end, from attention concentrated on the goal of a specific kind of expression, here of landscape painting via music. And it is thus that the young composer (just twenty-one when he finished the score in Rome) created one of his most original and compelling works.

 

RALPH VAUGHAN WILLIAMS
1872-1958

Piano Quintet in C Minor (1903)

About the Composer

Ralph Vaughan Williams graduated from the Royal College of Music in 1895 at the age of twenty-three. He began composing actively, but it was to be more than a decade before he felt that he had really established his own style. He did this through a very diverse series of connections and experiences.

He thoroughly absorbed the solid but conventional choral style of Parry and Stanford (whose works are still heard in England far more often than elsewhere). His sense of melody, and in particular his love for the old modal forms of melody, had been heightened by the first intense experience of folk-song collecting on the one hand and by his editorship of The Hymnal (published in 1906), on the other. Spending many months in editorial duties for a collection of hymns might seem to be a waste of time for a young composer, but Vaughan Williams found it among the most valuable experiences of his life. He later remarked that two years’ close association with some of the best—and worst—tunes ever written had done him more good than any amount of academic study of fugue.

He greatly admired two Elgar masterpieces, the Enigma Variations and The Dream of Gerontius, that preceded his own work on his Sea Symphony; begun in 1903, the same year as the Piano Quintet. But after immersing himself in the work of his English predecessors, in the rather Germanic approach in his formal instruction, and in the English tradition of folk and hymn tunes, Vaughan Williams decided in 1908 that he needed further polishing of his orchestration, so he studied for a time with Maurice Ravel in Paris. And unlike most of Ravel’s students, Vaughan Williams used what he learned to write in his own manner, as Ravel himself noted when he called Vaughan Williams “the only one of my pupils who does not write my music.”

About the Work

Following his return from France, he felt that he had moved beyond many of his earlier scores into a new phase of his career. Some of his earlier pieces had already been performed and published. But the Piano Quintet (finished in its first version on October 27, 1903, and twice revised before its premiere in London on December 14, 1905) remained in manuscript. Eventually the composer withdrew it, evidently feeling that it no longer represented his style. After 1918, it was not heard again until very recently.

In 2002, the RVW Society undertook to publish it, along with other early works by the composer, noting that it is a fine piece that also gives us a glimpse at the thirty-one year old composer who was about to blossom as the major symphonist he was becoming.

A Deeper Listen

The main influence that seems present in the quintet, especially in the opening movement’s big gestures, is Brahms (which is only fitting, since the German composer was very much alive and present to the musical world when Vaughan Williams was a conservatory student). But the instrumentation suggests a familiarity with the Schubert “Trout” Quintet— especially with the presence of “quasi variazioni” in the finale, as a possible reflection of the Schubert’s variations on his song “The Trout.” Vaughan Williams may have decided not to publish the quintet, but fifty years after composing it, he used the theme of the finale as the basis of a similar set of variations in a Violin Sonata that he composed in 1954, almost at the end of his life.

 

HENRY PURCELL
1659-1695

Three Fantasias for Viols in Four Parts (1680)

About the Composer

Henry Purcell’s lifespan was no longer than that of Mozart, and like Mozart, he was a precocious musical talent who composed in every form of music known to his day—vocal or instrumental, sacred or secular, for performance in a royal palace, a tavern, or a church, yet few listeners other than specialists in the Baroque era hear more than a small percentage of it. His talents as composer and performer surely entitle him to be ranked at the same level as Mozart (and even the ribaldry of his “catches” to be sung in the mostly male environs of the tavern suggest similarities with some of Mozart’s less elevated works!).

Purcell was a boy singer in the Chapel Royal of the court of Charles II, where his creative talent first manifested itself. In the quarter-century of his abbreviated career he wrote vivid settings of the English language in songs and choruses, varied pieces of incidental music for the theater, and other kinds of outgoing musical expression.

About the Works

In spite of his writing “modern” music in the principal national styles of the day— English, French (mostly dance music), and Italian (mostly theatrical music)— he also wrote the last important set of compositions in a genre that had been widespread in England for the better part of a century: the fantasia (or “fantasy” or “fancy”) for 3, 4, or 5 stringed instruments. These were composed for a collection of violas da gamba, a type of stringed instrument that was on the verge of being replaced by the more “modern” violin family.

Purcell’s chamber music gave expression to a personal invention, whether it was in his fantasias for viols, a last great monument of a genre on the verge of dying out, or in his trio sonatas, splendid examples of a popular new medium. In June 1680, Purcell created seven of these fantasias, which poured out of him at an amazing speed. The four-voice fantasia in F he composed on June 14 also contains the remarkable five-voice fantasia “upon one note” in which the added fifth voice can be played by almost anyone, since the player simply repeats a single note, middle C, in a steady tempo, while the other players develop astonishing contrapuntal displays in four distinct but connected sections, the second of which is heartily brisk, the third slow and poignant, and the last a lively chattering dance.

A Deeper Listen

Most of the fantasies begin with a fugal imitation in all voices. After this, there may be one or more changes of tempo, giving the effect of brief movements run directly together. In all cases, these works offer a sober, rich counterpoint that captures one aspect—the most serious—of Purcell’s wide-ranging musical genius.

 

FELIX MENDELSSOHN
1809-1847

Sextet in D Major for Piano and Strings, Opus 110

At a Glance

Mendelssohn composed this unusual sextet between April 28 and May 10, 1824 when he was fifteen years old, just a year before he produced the first of his masterpieces, and one of the most extraordinary, the Octet for strings. (The Sextet was not published until 1868, two decades after the composer’s death.)

The Sextet shows that Mendelssohn had been absorbing the brilliant, theatrical pianism of Carl Maria von Weber, which reveals itself in the virtuosic sparkle of the piano part.

About the Work

Many Mendelssohn works with high opus numbers are actually quite early compositions that Felix never got around to publishing, either because he wanted to polish them further (difficult as it may be to believe, the wonderful Italian symphony falls into this category because he was never fully satisfied with it) or simply because it was written during the youthful period in which he was learning his art through energetic non-stop creation of new works that were, in part, inspired by the examples of earlier masters. However delightful and imaginative some of these pieces were, Mendelssohn may have felt that they drew too heavily on ideas generated by other composers to consider them entirely original.

Still, the history of all art in every medium has been a history of apprenticeship leading to mastery. And as long as that mastery eventually arrives—as it did surprisingly early with Mendelssohn—we can always enjoy hearing hints of things to come in the way he learns and absorbs the traditions that preceded him and makes them his own.

During the period before its composition, the Mendelssohn circle had been enlarged with the addition, at many of the Sunday musicales, of the theorist and critic A.B. Marx, the editor of a new musical journal and a passionate student of the music of Beethoven and his predecessors. It was probably he who, in frequent and extended discussions with Mendelssohn, pressed him to take in the more serious and dramatic works of Beethoven, a move that had an immediate effect on his music.

A Deeper Listen

The most explicit influence of Beethoven comes in the last two movements, which borrow a leaf from Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. Mendelssohn clearly absorbed Beethoven’s way of linking thematic ideas and passages from different movements in this symphony. Following his Menuetto (which, despite the old-fashioned title, is really a demonic scherzo à la Beethoven), Mendelssohn unfolds a brilliant D-major finale that, in a surprise move, brings back the material of the third movement during the recapitulation. (Beethoven did this in his Fifth Symphony just before the recapitulation). And during the coda of the finale, Mendelssohn converts his principal theme into the minor mode of the Menuetto before boldly shoving that aside with an abrupt ending in the major. Clearly he is absorbing Beethoven and trying out some of his unusual features. The following year, in the Octet, Mendelssohn would show that he had fully absorbed this manner of linking movements in a way entirely his own. But in the Sextet we can hear the brilliant young musicians starting to work out these musical ideas in his own way.

– Steven Ledbetter