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Hyperion Records

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The Temple of Juno in Agrigento by Caspar David Friedrich (1774-1840)
De Agostini Picture Library / Bridgeman Art Library, London
Track(s) taken from CDA68059
Recording details: June 2013
St Silas the Martyr, Kentish Town, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Annabel Connellan
Engineered by Ben Connellan
Release date: July 2014
Total duration: 10 minutes 55 seconds

'Howard Shelley … shows himself ideally cast. His poise and vehemence give substance to even the composer's more facile utterances. Time and again Shelley makes it clear that Mendelssohn has a special place in his affections, and although it is invidious to locate the finer moments in his unfailing expertise, certain performances stand out for their exceptional grace and commitment. What suppleness and expressive beauty in the Andante prefacing the evergreen Rondo capriccioso, what virtuosity in the wildly skittering finale of the F sharp minor Fantasia. What quiet eloquence Shelley achieves in the sixth of the Songs without Words (Book 2), where the gondolier sings his plaintive song above a gently rocking accompaniment' (Gramophone) » More

'Eminently attractive, a mix of the agreeably tuneful, romantically pictorial, invigoratingly dashing and elegantly crafted. Shelley is the stylish master of it all … books 2 and 3 of the Songs without words include some gems, and also some spirited numbers (for example, No 4 of Book 2 is marked 'Agitato e con fuoco'). Full of narrative whatever the tempo, this set concludes with the well-known and enigmatic 'Venetianisches Gondollied' with Mendelssohn exploring similar waters to those found in Chopin's Barcarolle. Similar delights follow in Book 3, the concluding 'Duetto' melting the heart in a manner that is rather Schumannesque, and so lovingly shaped by Shelley. Yes, all good stuff, and thoroughly recommended' (International Record Review) » More

Trois fantaisies ou caprices, Op 16
composer
1829; composed for the three Anne, Honora and Susan Taylor

Other recordings available for download
Valerie Tryon (piano)
Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
While returning to London from his Scottish sojourn in 1829, Mendelssohn made an excursion to northern Wales, where he visited the family of John Taylor (1779–1863), an English mining engineer who owned a summer residence in Flintshire. (Taylor’s sister, Sarah Austin, was a member of the circle of Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill, and a productive author and translator of German literature.) Playing the English gentleman, Mendelssohn enjoyed hunting, reading Sir Walter Scott, visiting one of Taylor’s mines, and flirting with his three daughters, for whom the composer produced the Trois fantaisies ou caprices, Op 16. For Anne, he joined a pensive Andante con moto in A minor, with traces of his Scottish style, to a spirited, A major Allegro vivace meant to capture bouquets of Anne’s favourite roses and carnations, with ascending arpeggiations to suggest the wafting scent. Floral imagery also informed the second caprice, for Honora. This E minor Scherzo is propelled by crisp fanfares and light staccato work to represent a creeping vine with trumpet-shaped flowers. And the third caprice, for Susan, whom Mendelssohn described as the ‘prettiest’, gently traced the course of a meandering rivulet that the two encountered during one of their walks.

from notes by R Larry Todd © 2014


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