Sinfonia No.11 (String Symphony) in F Major 'Schweizerlied'
For 2 Violins, 2 Violas, Cello & Bass--(Timpani, Triangle & Cymbals ad libitum)
Felix Mendelssohn's String Symphony No.11 in F Major dates from 1823 at which time he was 14 years old. The year before his family had taken a trip to Switzerland and there Mendelssohn listened to Swiss folk music and in the second movement of this symphony incorporated one of these Schweizerlieds (Swiss songs) as the main theme. Although No.11 was, like the others, an assignment in counterpoint from his composition teacher Carl Zelter, it is nonetheless a finished work. It is also the longest and most substantial of the string sinfonia and is the only one to have 5 movements. And of the 12, it is probably the best known because of the so-called Schweitzerlied. The work begins with a very lengthy Adagio introduction which leads to a pulsing Allegro molto. Next comes a Scherzo subtitled 'Schweitzerlied' which Mendelssohn handles like a mature master. It is actually in the form of a march and perhaps reminded the boy of a parade he witnessed in a local Swiss village which probably explains why he included parts for timpani, triangle and cymbals. But they are not essential and only are used toward the end of the movement to give it a little extra flavor. They never dominate and the music really loses little without them. The third movement, an Adagio, though not showy is perhaps the most impressive of the symphony. It is deeply felt with wonderful use of melody. Next comes a bumptious Menuetto and trio. The work concludes with a thumping Allegro molto, complete with fugual sections.
It is ironic that while none of these early sinfonia as he called them were intended to be played by the massed string section of a modern symphony orchestra or even the size of today's chamber orchestra, that is the only way these works seem to be heard. The title of Sinfonia was given because of the style rather than the number of players he intended for the work. It is almost certain that Mendelssohn intended this work for home use and for only a few players and not an orchestra. Some have argued that this could not be since it calls for a small percussion section. However, the famous pianist Igzaz Moscheles, a family friend of the Mendelssohns, recorded a visit at Christmas time to the family where Felix produced this work and in the spirit of the season insisted that his father and mother play the triangle and drum, while Moscheles played the cymbals! These lovely pieces were meant for home use and for musical soirees. Long out of print, we are pleased to reintroduce a work which makes a fine selection for sextet or small string orchestra. We have included parts for the timpani, triangle and cymbals should you desire to have them played but they are not necessary as you can hear from our soundbite.
Parts & Score: $59.95