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Saturday, March 11, 2017

Fanny Mendelssohn - The Year (Lauma Skride)


Composer: Fanny Mendelssohn
  1. Das Jahr: 1. Januar. Ein Traum
  2. Das Jahr: 2. Februar. Scherzo
  3. Das Jahr: 3. März. Agitiato
  4. Das Jahr: 4. April. Capriccioso
  5. Das Jahr: 5. Mai. Frühlingslied
  6. Das Jahr: 6. Juni. Serenade
  7. Das Jahr: 7. Juli. Serenade
  8. Das Jahr: 8. August. Allegro
  9. Das Jahr: 9. September. Am Flusse
  10. Das Jahr: 10. Oktober. Allegro con spirituoso
  11. Das Jahr: 11. November. Mesto
  12. Das Jahr: 12. Dezember. Allegro molto
  13. Das Jahr: 13. Epilog. Choral

Lauma Skride, piano
Date: 2007
Label: Sony Classical



It seems outrageous at this remove that Felix, Fanny’s younger brother, not only actively discouraged the publication of his sister’s works but passed some of them off as his own. For a woman to aspire to be a professional composer, he felt, was unseemly for her gender and social status. It was not until 1846, despite having been Mrs Mendelssohn-Hensel for 18 years, that she felt able to break free of her brother’s influence and publish her first work (an Andante in G major). Das Jahr, composed between August 28 and December 23, 1841, and preceding Tchaikovsky’s similar exercise by 34 years, was not unearthed until 1989.

The cycle abounds with stylistic similarities and allusions to Felix’s works with fleeting glimpses of Songs Without Words (June) and the Rondo capriccioso (February). Those with sharp ears will recognise sly quotes from the Serenade and Allegro giocoso (March), a theme from the Capriccio brillante (April) and, in December, a treatment of the chorale Vom Himmel hoch which had attracted Felix in his 1831 cantata. The use of other chorales, as Mendelssohn scholar R Larry Todd points out, reveals “an overarching programmatic design organised around the Protestant calendar”.

I hope the above is sufficient to persuade any sceptics that the 13 pieces (Fanny appends a short postlude, again citing a chorale) are a valuable and rewarding addition to this genre of the literature. The young Latvian pianist Lauma Skride, sister of violinist Baiba, follows the modern edition to the letter but beyond this brings an engaging and affectionate playfulness to the music – she is superbly recorded, by the way – so that if Fanny deserved better in her lifetime, she could hardly hope for a better champion in ours.

-- Jeremy Nicholas, Gramophone

More reviews:


Fanny Mendelssohn [Hensel] (14 November 1805 – 14 May 1847) was a German pianist and composer, the sister of composer Felix Mendelssohn. She composed over 460 pieces of music, include a piano trio and several books of solo piano pieces and songs. A number of her songs were originally published under Felix's name in his opus 8 and 9 collections. In recent years, her music has become better known thanks to concert performances and a number of CDs being released on labels such as Hyperion and CPO.


Lauma Skride (born 1982 in Riga, Latvia) is a Latvian pianist. She studied with Anita Paze at the Emil Darzin School of Music in Riga, then studied under Volker Banfield at the University of Music and Theatre in Hamburg. Awarded the Beethoven Ring in 2008, Skride is highly acclaimed for her interpretations of Germanic classical and romantic repertoire. Skride recorded Fanny Hensel's piano cycle Das Jahr for Sony in 2007 and received an ECHO Classic Award as Best Young Artist for this recording. Lauma Skride is also committed to the long established duo with her sister, violinist Baiba Skride.


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