As was usual for sons of well to do families in the 18th and 19th century, Felix Mendelssohn also left the Berlin parental home in April 1829 and set out on a journey through Europe to broaden his horizon. Even before the summer he and his friend and travel companion Karl Klingemann arrived in Edinburgh and from there they toured Scotland and sailed along the coast. Felix was struck by the wild Scottish sea- and landscapes and made drawings and water colours. But also the Hebrides Ouverture and Symphony no. 3 (the Scottish) are memorable fruits. Before his travels Mendelssohn had already started to compose the Fantasy in F sharp, which is also called Sonata écossaise (Scottish sonata), but only after the three years’ tour did he finish and publish it. The work is comprised of three parts and continues with the attacca as one big whole. Sieben Charakterstücke op.7 is an early work of Mendelssohn. He wrote it between 1824 and 1826, at the age of 15 up to 17 and dedicated it to his former piano teacher Ludwig Berger. Not all composer geniuses in musical history show such developed composition skill and musicality at such an early age as is shown in this piece. We already see the characteristics that Mendelssohn demonstrates in all works made throughout his entire life: lyrical melodies in nos. 1 and 6, restless perpetuum mobile in nos. 2, 4 and 7, and a composition in the style of J.S.Bach in 3 and 5 (Fuga).
Total time: 01:10:53
DPA 4006, Neumann U87, TLM 170, KM 184
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|Release Date||September 25, 2015|
Piano music was a mainstay of Mendelssohn’s output from childhood onwards, although in this anniversary year, record companies have paid relatively little attention to it. There are even fewer recitals recorded on pianos built by Mendelssohn’s contemporaries, so this one from fortepianist Riko Fukuda is most welcome. After studying oboe and piano in a Japanese conservatory, she left to study in The Netherlands under Stanley Hoogland at the Royal Conservatory in The Hague. Specializing in the fortepiano, she founded the Nepomuk Fortepiano Quintet with which she has made several recordings.
For her Mendelssohn recital, she has chosen pianos from the Edwin Beunk Collection in the Netherlands; a Graf of 1835 and an Erard of 1837, which have been lovingly restored, well-prepared, tuned and voiced. The Graf has transparency of tone and good attack which makes for precise articulation and is excellent for contrapuntal music, while the Erard has a rich singing tone and a more dramatic range of tone colours. Both instruments show the wooden-framed fortepiano characteristic of varied and almost orchestral tone colours throughout their ranges, compared with the relative tonal uniformity of modern pianos.
In recording terms, the sound of both fortepianos is strikingly realistic, the piano being placed at an ideal distance so that mechanical noises never intrude, and a subtly resonant and sympathetic acoustic allows the tone to fully develop in their tonal and dynamic ranges. Stereo DSD balance is excellent, while the 5.0 Multi-Channel adds the subtle but effective three-dimensional touch of realism that can make so much difference to enjoyment of chamber music.
This is a desirable Mendelssohn disc, with Fukuda showing her affinity for period instruments and making one want to hear more from her. If you have doubts about clattery or wobbly sounding old pianos, this recording could be the one which convinces you otherwise.
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