Mendelssohn: Works for Cello & Piano

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4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Mendelssohn
WORKS: Cello Sonatas Nos 1 & 2; Variations concertantes in D, Op. 17; On Wings of Song, Op. 34/2; Schilflied, Op. 71/4; Assai tranquillo in B minor; Song Without Words in D, Op. 109
PERFORMER: Daniel Müller-Schott (cello), Jonathan Gilad (piano)


Schumann said it all: ‘This sonata is the purest music, valid in and through itself, a sonata so beautiful, clear and individual as has ever flowed from the hands of a great artist.’ He was referring to Mendelssohn’s First Cello Sonata, but both sonatas are underrated works of genius and it would take a lifetime to mine all their beauties. 

That thought remained with me through Daniel Müller-Schott and Jonathan Gilad’s polished performances. These two gifted musicians bring clean lines, vivacity, finesse and youthful spirit to the two sonatas and concert variations, and their performances are hugely enjoyable. But it’s interesting to compare this new recording with that of the more seasoned David Geringas and Ian Fountain which I reviewed back in the April issue (Profil).

Despite playing the highly-prized ‘ex-Shapiro’ 1727 Goffriller cello, Schott’s sound is more superficial than that of Geringas, who creates another dimension with his contained, burnished, woody tone quality, a more interesting texture within the piano’s embrace. Geringas also brings a subtle fluency, a lithe response, which lifts the notes off the page and into another realm, where Müller-Schott and Gilad’s performance is dictation-precise. 

That is not the criticism it might seem: both Müller-Schott and Gilad are hugely impressive, and communicate with spontaneous and virile warmth, especially in the joyous Variations concertantes Op. 17. Perhaps it was just the lack of another atmosphere, another air to breathe, that struck me; but they’ve all the time in the world to develop it.


Special to this disc are Schott’s own transcriptions of songs for cello and piano: the famous ‘On the wings of song’, and ‘Schilflied’, which has an exquisitely dark ardour. Helen Wallace