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Monday, March 13, 2017

Felix Mendelssohn; Robert Schumann - Piano Concerto in E minor; Konzertsatz (Jennifer Eley)


Composer: Felix Mendelssohn; Robert Schumann; Clara Schumann; Fanny Mendelssohn
  1. Mendelssohn - Piano Concerto in E minor (reconstructed by R. Larry Todd): 1. Alegro molto vivace
  2. Mendelssohn - Piano Concerto in E minor (reconstructed by R. Larry Todd): 2. Andante
  3. Schumann - Konzertsatz in D minor
  4. C. Schumann - Piano Sonata in G minor: 1. Allegro
  5. C. Schumann - Piano Sonata in G minor: 2. Adagio (con espressione e ben legato)
  6. C. Schumann - Piano Sonata in G minor: 3. Scherzo (leggieramente)
  7. C. Schumann - Piano Sonata in G minor: 4. Rondo
  8. F. Mendelssohn - Das Jahr: 2. Februar. Scherzo
  9. F. Mendelssohn - Das Jahr: 3. März. Agitiato
  10. F. Mendelssohn - Das Jahr: 5. Mai. Frühlingslied
  11. F. Mendelssohn - Das Jahr: 9. September. Am Flusse
  12. F. Mendelssohn - Das Jahr: 12. Dezember. Allegro molto

Jennifer Eley, piano
English Chamber Orchestra
Sayard Stone, conductor

Date: 1996
Label: Koch International Classics



What a delightful disc this is. Mendelssohn’s E minor Piano Concerto fragment (sympathetically reconstructed by R. Larry Todd and recorded here for the first time) makes a compelling opener. Ably supported by the ECO, Jennifer Eley deploys her athletic virtuosity with taste and precision in the dramatic Allegro, while piano and orchestra are winningly expressive in the sweetly melodious Andante. As Todd points out in the insert-notes, this E minor Concerto offers valuable insights into the Violin Concerto with which it shares common thematic and design features, and a performance as authoritative as this one will prove irresistible to collectors. Likewise, Robert Schumann’s Konzertsatz for piano and orchestra – an important landmark in the composer’s progress towards his A minor Piano Concerto – is played dynamically by these musicians.

Most notable, though, are the two works for solo piano – Clara Schumann’s G minor Sonata and excerpts from Fanny Mendelssohn-Hensel’s Das Jahr – where Eley’s feeling for this repertoire is at its most alluring and evocative. She articulates the Sonata’s first movement with astonishing clarity, produces aptly rich cantabile in the Adagio, neat precision in the scherzo and builds to an exciting climax in the finale. Eley also shows her own vivid musical imagination to be an ideal match for Fanny Mendelssohn’s in the selections from Das Jahr. There is elfin grace in the scherzo of “February”, satisfying warmth in “March”, radiant exhilaration in “May”, beautifully liquid melody in “September” (“Am Flusse”) and, finally, impressive swirling musical imagery in “December”.

-- Gramophone

More reviews:
BBC Music Magazine  PERFORMANCE: *** / SOUND: *****


Felix Mendelssohn (3 February 1809 – 4 November 1847) was a German composer, pianist, organist and conductor of the early Romantic period. He was among the most popular composers of the Romantic era. Like Mozart, he was recognized early as a musical prodigy. Mendelssohn enjoyed early success in Germany, where he also revived interest in the music of Johann Sebastian Bach, and in his travels throughout Europe. He was particularly well received in Britain as a composer, conductor and soloist, visited there ten times. His essentially conservative musical tastes, however, set him apart from many of his more adventurous musical contemporaries.


Robert Schumann (8 June 1810 – 29 July 1856) was a German composer and influential music critic. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest composers of the Romantic era. Schumann's published compositions were written exclusively for the piano until 1840; he later composed works for piano and orchestra; many Lieder (songs for voice and piano); four symphonies; an opera; and other orchestral, choral, and chamber works. Schumann suffered from a lifelong mental disorder, and died in 1856 without having recovered from his mental illness.


Jennifer Eley-Handler (December 27, 1961 - June 02, 2006) is a prize-winning American pianist. Eley-Handler, who entered The Juilliard School at age 13, was the principal pianist for the Long Island Philharmonic. She'd performed in venues worldwide, including in Mexico and France. Her many awards included the Anne and Aaron Richmond Prize in Boston. She also won the second medal at the 1988 International Piano Competition in Porto, Portugal.


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