Sinfonia No. 7 for Strings in D Minor

 

Composed:  1820-21
Instrumentation:  String orchestra
Performance Time:  22 minutes 

  • A frighteningly clever child, the young Felix excelled as a painter, poet, athlete, linguist, and musical prodigy.  His parents were cautious and saw to nurturing the talents of young Felix and his sister Fanny, a composer and pianist in her own right
  • Felix began studying composition with Carl Friedrich Zelter at the age of ten. Zelter schooled him in the counterpoint of Bach and the Classical style of Haydn and Mozart. Between the ages of 12 and 15 he composed 13 sinfonias for string orchestra for Zelter.
  • The Sinfonia No. 7 for Strings in D minor was composed when he was 12 or 13 and performed by a small string orchestra at a concert at his parent’s home.  
  • It is the first of the set in four movements.

I.      Allegro: the opening theme is given a dramatic contrapuntal treatment giving way to a more lyrical second theme. The coda introduces a new figure but returns to the opening theme once more.

II.     Andante amorevole: The second movement is more leisurely beginning with a charming duet between two violins with the rest of the orchestra tiptoeing in.

III.     Minuetto: The minuet that follows is an energetic almost peasant-like dance. It gives way to a contrasting trio with a theme that takes over the rest of the movement.

IV.     Allegro molto: Set to a quick tempo with echoes of a tarantella, the movement evolves into a fugue allowing the young Mendelssohn to display, almost flaunt, his mastery of the form.

Again, there are many recordings and videos available including this version with the Northern Chamber Orchestra conducted by Nicholas Ward:

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