Felix and Fanny Mendelssohn: Cello-piano works (Pentatone)


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The near-symbiotic relationship between Mendelssohn and his older sister, examined in my forthcoming book Genius and Anxiety, was so central to both musicians’ lives that Felix was felled by a stroke on hearing of Fanny’s death and died before the year was out.

Fanny, the first to evince musical talent, was silenced by their father as she neared puberty in order not to deflect attention from her genius kid brother. In her 30s she found a publisher and began – to Felix’s chagrin – to produce chamber music. His anger abated on finding that the music was of high quality. At their last meeting, the pair sat at the piano and gleefully played each other’s latest works.

It is almost impossible on record to hear them together, which is why the present release is such a gift. Between Felix’s two sonatas for cello and piano, we hear a delicate Fantasia in G minor by Fanny, followed by a delicious, meditative Capriccio in A-flat. Beside Fanny’s secure inner voice, Felix sounds hard-sell and bombastic. Where he is writing for instant applause, she has a more distant audience in mind.

The performers, Johannes Moser and Alisdair Beatson, capture this contrast to perfection. It’s my favourite Mendelssohn listening of the year.

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This page is also available in / Cette page est également disponible en: Francais (French)


About Author

Norman Lebrecht is a prolific writer on music and cultural affairs. His blog, Slipped Disc, is one of the most popular sites for cultural news. He presents The Lebrecht Interview on BBC Radio 3 and is a contributor to several publications, including the Wall Street Journal and The Standpoint. Visit every Friday for his weekly CD review // Norman Lebrecht est un rédacteur prolifique couvrant les événements musicaux et Slipped Disc, est un des plus populaires sites de nouvelles culturelles. Il anime The Lebrecht Interview sur la BBC Radio 3 et collabore à plusieurs publications, dont The Wall Street Journal et The Standpoint. Vous pouvez lire ses critiques de disques chaque vendredi.

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