Sunday’s concert offers a very rare opportunity to hear Mendelssohn’s early Sextet.
This ebullient piece, written in 1824, was first performed at one of the Mendelssohn family Sunday morning concerts. These concerts had acquired an almost mythical status on the Berlin musical scene-as the list of guests shows. Spohr, Spontini, Hummel, Weber and Moscheles all came, and the Felix listened carefully to their opinion.
The Sextet is scored for Piano, violin, two violas, cello and double bass. This may seem an odd instrumentation today, but this configuration of string instruments was not uncommon at this time. The bristling piano part would have been played by Felix himself, and the violin part by his teacher and colleague, Eduard Rietz-whose virtuosity is suddenly allowed to spill over in the last movement.