The Mendelssohns were at this time living in Leipzig, where Felix was the conductor of the orchestral concerts in the Gewandhaus. His innovations in this series had a far-reaching effect on German musical life in general. He took over the conducting of symphonies, which had previously been directed ‘from the violin’ by the orchestral leader. He hired better players, and fought successfully to get their salaries raised. Equally important were his imaginative programmes. In the 1837/38 season, when this Sonata was written, he devised four ‘historical concerts’ which introduced the public to the music of Handel, Bach, Viotti, Cimarosa, Haydn, Naumann, Righini, Mozart, Salieri, Beethoven and the Abbé Vogler. Perhaps the large amount of music from the Classical era influenced the character of his own compositions, for the B flat Sonata is certainly Classical in form and mentality. Its textures are light and clear, its pacing superbly graded; only the piano writing, with the excited heartbeats common to both sonatas, shows the restless temperament of the nineteenth century.
from notes by Susan Tomes © 1991