Mendelssohn: Octet; Boccherini: Quintet Op. 37 No. 7
Academy of St. Martin in the Fields Chamber Ensemble
Catalogue No.

Mendelssohn’s Octet, Op. 20 occupies a proud place in the history of works by indecently young composers; it is doubtful whether even such prodigies as Mozart and Schubert produced such an extended, mature work at the age of sixteen. Moreover, one of its movements granted the composer the honour of having an adjective named after him pass into common use – for this Scherzo, Mendelssohnian is the only appropriate description. The coupling on this legendary recording – selected for inclusion by the Penguin Guide to the 1000 Finest Classical Recordings – is the much rarer Boccherini Quintet and is, like much of his music, gentle and genial… a quality that led to a contemporary once waspishly describing him as ‘Haydn’s wife’.


Octet for Strings, Op. 20

Quintet in C Major for Cello and Strings, Op. 37 No. 7 (G.310)

Academy of St. Martin in the Fields Chamber Ensemble

Recording information

Recording Producer: Michael Bremner
Balance Engineers: James Lock (Mendelssohn); Kenneth Wilkinson, Alan Reeve (Boccherini)
Recording Location: Kingsway Hall, London, UK, 13 June 1967 (Mendelssohn); 14 November 1967 (Boccherini)


‘This 1968 performance by the ASMF is fresh and buoyant and the recording wears its years lightly. It offers fine judgement in matters of clarity and sonority and is coupled with a highly desirable and much less well-known work by Boccherini.’ The Penguin Guide to the 1000 Finest Classical Recordings

‘To the recording’s qualifications as “legendary” there is no argument. The Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields players (Neville Marriner on violin among them) are superb in the young Mendelssohn’s dense, rich, but rather unwieldy octet … The high-tech remastering vaunted here does its job; the sound matches the standards of a well-engineered LP from the late 1960s. This is a recording that was fresh in its own time and has lost none of its freshness today.’ All-Music Guide

‘the whole work is splendidly done … There is a knife-edge tautness about their performance [of the Scherzo] that is extraordinarily gripping’ (Mendelssohn) … the minuet is a lollipop, at least as pretty as the Boccherini minuet … All in all, then, this is a most enjoyable work and very well played by all concerned. And very well recorded too.’ [Boccherini] Gramophone