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Fanny Mendelssohn • Felix Mendelssohn: Piano Sextet etc

Kaleidoscope Chamber Collective (Chandos)

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

Fanny Mendelssohn • Felix Mendelssohn
Fanny Mendelssohn: Piano Trio; Piano Quartet; Felix Mendelssohn: Piano Sextet
Kaleidoscope Chamber Collective
Chandos CHAN 20256   68:04 mins

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Perspectives on the Mendelssohn siblings are now changing at a rate of knots, notably restoring Fanny Mendelssohn’s fabulous chamber music to the public ear. Her Piano Trio, demanding intense virtuosity and high-Romantic passion, overflows with personality that is quite far removed from Felix’s staunch Classicism. Her Piano Quartet, written when she was about 17, pre-dates the Trio by more than 20 years: if less meatily satisfying, its fluidity and eloquence show her well on her way up. Felix’s Sextet for piano, violin, two violas, cello and double bass, written when he was about 15, is a mini-concerto, more technically than emotionally sophisticated: clear-textured, very diatonic, it puts its pianist through some finger-busting paces.

Both the Mendelssohns present Kaleidoscope’s Tom Poster with some terrific workouts that well suit his style of pianism: no matter what challenges they throw into the mix, he seems truly unflappable, his touch displaying just the right balance of smoothness and sparkle. The string players, headed by violinist Elena Urioste, with violists Juan-Miguel Hernandez and Rosalind Ventris, cellist Laura van der Heijden and Chi-chi Nwanoku on the double-bass, weave a radiant halo of sound around Poster in the Sextet; then he, Urioste and van der Heijden give the best performance I’ve yet heard of Fanny’s Piano Trio and together with Ventris delve joyously into the quartet. Kaleidoscope simply has the last word in fresh, positive energy, which comes bowling out of this recording in spadeloads.

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Jessica Duchen