Joanna Strzelecka-Orlowska

Fanny Hensel: The Year in Italy

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Fanny Mendelssohn, elder sister of Felix, married Prussian court painter Wilhelm Hensel, and in 1839-1840 embarked with him on a Grand Tour of Italy. Plainly she had the time of her life; she wrote her best music on the trip, and unlike Clara Schumann was supported in her endeavors by her husband, who adorned her manuscripts with drawings of the scenes they had experienced on the journey. The period inspired a loosely evocative piece for each month, collected in a set of 12, plus a few more miscellaneous short pieces, included here. Polish pianist Joanna Strzelecka-Orlowska merely claims to have released the first performance of Das Jahr, the collection of month-titled character pieces, in Poland, but actually her release is unusually nice and can compete with the several others on the market. The music won't stand up to intense Romantic conceits; it resembles the music of Felix Mendelssohn in general style, but has a freshness and spontaneity that is all its own. This Strzelecka-Orlowska catches to the hilt. Recommended for those interested in the Mendelssohn circle, in music by women, or simply in the early Romantic mind in general.

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