Fanny Mendelssohn: Piano Pieces

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COMPOSERS: Fanny Mendelssohn
LABELS: Koch Schwann
WORKS: Piano Pieces
PERFORMER: Irene Barbuceanu (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 3-1589-2
Regular readers of BBC Music Magazine may be familiar with Fanny Mendelssohn’s D minor Piano Trio, which appeared on the cover CD last May. Fanny was Felix Mendelssohn’s sister, and it was she who put into his mind the idea of the series of melodious piano pieces which he composed under the collective title of Lieder ohne Worte (Songs without Words). It’s no surprise that some of her own piano pieces were miniatures of much the same type. What may seem surprising is that they are so extraordinarily assured and, within the parameters of her chosen form, so strikingly varied. The shorter pieces are perfect little album leaves; the more substantial ones (like the G minor Notturno and the Andante soave in E flat) reveal an impressive ability to sustain an idea over a longer timescale. The style is little different from that of her more famous brother, and the writing is thoroughly pianistic.

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Barbuceanu is the ideal interpreter, at home with the idiom, subtle in approach, elegant, refined, effortlessly recreating the special tone-world of each of these attractive pieces. Wadham Sutton