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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: 7 minutes 41 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

Fantasia on 'The last rose of summer' in E major, Op 15
composer
by 1830

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
We know relatively little about Mendelssohn’s Fantasia in E major on ‘The last rose of summer’, Op 15, based on the popular Irish song. It was probably composed earlier than 1830, when it appeared in London as 'Fantasia (on a favourite Irish melody)'. The poem was written by Thomas Moore in 1805, and set to music by the Irish composer John Stevenson, who collaborated with Moore on the publication of his Irish Melodies. The melody was the basis of some variations for flute and piano by Beethoven, and also featured in Flotow’s opera Martha (1847). Mendelssohn’s composition begins with a sustained, harp-like, arpeggiated chord, as a brief prelude before we hear a simple setting of the melody. The main portion of the Fantasia is then given to a Presto agitato in E minor. Its frenetic, agitated motion is interrupted midway by a free series of recitative-like passages, and later by a shortened recall of the melody. In the final portion of the Fantasia Mendelssohn adds a coda that quietly ruminates on the theme, as if freely reminiscing on it in retrospect.

from notes by R Larry Todd © 2014

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