In 1832 Felix Mendelssohn (1809-47) wrote to his sister Fanny that is what about time he wrote some ‘good trios’. He had already started but left unfinished a trio for piano, violin and viola, and started the D minor trio shortly after, completing it in 1839. Mendelssohn’s friend the composer-pianist Ferdinand Hiller advised him after the completion to make several revisions to make the work sound as up to date as possible – Hiller, was a pupil of Hummel was a keen supporter of Berlioz and Liszt. The result is a work of perfect proportions, with a brilliant piano part, skilful counterpoint and a wonderful blend of classical poise and romantic passion. Schumann reviewing the Leipzig premiere on 1840 commented that the trio was a masterpiece that would ‘bring joy to our children and grandchildren’. The 2nd trio is dedicated to the great German violinist and composer Louis Spohr.
'The masterpiece of our time in the trio genre' is how Robert Schumann described Mendelssohn's Piano Trio in D minor when he reviewed the work upon its publication in 1840. Comparing it to the trios by Beethoven and Schubert, Schumann continued: 'a very beautiful composition, which in years to come will continue to delight our grandchildren and great-grandchildren.' And so it has the D minor trio remains one of the most popular of Mendelssohn's chamber works, uniting the composer's gift for melody with his feeling for textures and formal mastery. A few years later he penned the Piano Trio No. 2 in C minor between February and April 1845. An intensely emotional first movement is followed by a blissful Andante espressivo and a shimmering, truly Mendelsohnian Scherzo. The Finale returns to the passionate mood of the opening, but in the course of the movement hymn-like allusions appear and lend an air of sacred celebration to the movement. These two highpoints in the Romantic repertoire for piano trio are here performed by the young Sitkovetsky Trio.
An exceptionally fine performance of the Mendelssohn string quintets by Jaime Laredo, Ani Kavafian, Heiichiro Ohyama, Kim Kashkashian and Sharon Robinson can be found on CD45883 (61 minutes: ADD). These are rhythmically alert and spirited readings, played with great charm and eloquence. They are an especially welcome addition to a catalogue that sports no rival version of No. 1 and only one of No. 2. The 1978 recording is one of the best in the batch, exceptionally well balanced with a fine feeling of depth and presence. Strongly recommended. (Gramophone)
Following his critically acclaimed recording of Mendelssohn’s Symphony No.2, Spanish conductor Pablo Heras-Casado returns with Symphonies Nos.3 and 4, this time leading the Freiburger Barockorchester. Both works have origins in the composer’s 1829- 1831 tour of Europe. Symphony No.3, sometimes called the “Scottish” symphony, was inspired by a visit to the ruined Holyrood Chapel in Edinburgh in 1829. It was not completed until 1842, making it, chronologically, the last of his five symphonies. Symphony No.4, called the “Italian” symphony, was born of the color and atmosphere of Italy, and was completed in Berlin in 1833.
The catalog doesn't need a new version of Mendelssohn's Midsummer Night's Dream, but this one is sung and spoken in German (hence the use of Sommernachtstraum on the cover), which is rare. It's reminder that Mendelssohn was setting a German translation of Shakespeare. Harnoncourt's performance is very fine. His speakers and singers are first-rate, and he evokes both the dreamy relaxation of the play and its mercurial swiftness. Tempos are on the fast side, phrasing is crips without being terse, and the execution by the Chamber Orchestra of Europe could be mistaken for the Concertgebouw.
"Helmuth Rilling realisiert die stilistische Spannweite der Chöre vom nazarenischen a cappella über impressionistische Koloristik, einem fast Brahms'schen Sentiment, bis zur dramatischen Wucht vollkommen."~FonoForum
For those just discovering this nineteen-year-old American violinist, the term "revelation" aptly applies. For his début in the recording studio he has chosen two seemingly opposed concertos: Mendelssohn's famous violin concerto and the magic concerto composed by his compatriot, John Adams (b. 1947). "Implacably melodic", says Adams of his work - a point the two pieces prove to have in common in this magnificent performance by Kristjan Järvi and his Leipzig Radio Symphony Orchestra.