This little Swiss album combines three chamber works by the young Felix Mendelssohn, all of them written when he was still in his mid-teens or even younger. They derive from the styles of Beethoven and, in the case of the Sonata for clarinet and piano in E flat major, Carl Maria von Weber. But this is all to the good: the young composer not only understood these contemporary styles but also felt the energies behind them and was able to apply his own affectingly melancholy personality to them. Even at this early date the music is very much Mendelssohn. The highlight is the most famous of the three works, the Trio for violin, viola, and piano in C minor, composed when Mendelssohn was 11. Despite some awkwardness in the counterpoint, the piece has impressive emotional intensity. All three pieces benefit from the gentle touch given them by the multinational group of musicians heard on this beautifully recorded release; the limpid clarinet work of Eduard Brunner is especially impressive. This program is an unusual one, but it immerses the listener in the world of the young Mendelssohn (depicted almost androgynously in a drawing by Carl Joseph Begas included in the booklet) in a way that the more formal string symphonies do not.
AllMusic Review by James Manheim
|Sonata for viola & piano in C minor|
|Sonata for clarinet & piano in E flat major|
|Trio for violin, viola & piano in C minor|