When in the Silence of the Soul - Rios
Eudora Records EUD-SACD-2303
Classical - Instrumental
Works by Fanny Mendelssohn
Paula Rios (piano)
Fanny Mendelssohn, a “sister of the Muses” has her mother would call her, was a 19th -century wife, mother and carer, but also made her own musical path and became of one the most important pianists of her time, composing over 400 pieces. The title of the album is a reference to a poem Goethe set Fanny to set it to music, highly spontaneous and experimental. Paula Ríos brings the brilliance and sensitivity needed and guides through Fanny’s piano output, including two first recordings.
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- Fanny Mendelssohn-Hensel: 4 Lieder for Piano, HU 423/458/461/463 Op. 8
- Fanny Mendelssohn-Hensel: Allegro in C minor, HU 139
- Fanny Mendelssohn-Hensel: Allegro molto in E minor, HU 410
- Fanny Mendelssohn-Hensel: Andantino in B flat major, HU 102
- Fanny Mendelssohn-Hensel: Notturno, HU 337
- Fanny Mendelssohn-Hensel: Sonata for Piano in A major, HU 235 'Ostersonate'
- Fanny Mendelssohn-Hensel: Sonata for Piano in G minor, HU 395
- Fanny Mendelssohn-Hensel: Villa Medicis in A flat major, HU 353
Review by Adrian Quanjer - July 3, 2023
I have only a few works of Fanny Mendelssohn in my library and I like them all. Especially her Piano Trio (The Dartington Piano Trio, released in 2001 on the Helios label, but in origin a 1988 Hyperion recording). Wishing for more, and I recommend her wonderful String Quartet H-U 55 not yet available in high-definition, I was glad to be able to scoop up an anthology of her piano works, among which two have never been recorded before.
Fanny Hensel, Née Mendelssohn has, like her younger brother, the gift of melody. Whatever her creative mind produces resonates immediately with any keen music lover. It is regrettable that in those days women were not supposed to go beyond taking care of home and children. Speculating on what she would have been able to contribute to our classical world had she lived longer than just 41 years won’t bring us more than she did, and that is already a lot more than up till now available on SACD. So, let us be content and explore what we have at hand.
With Eudora Records, one can be sure that every possible effort has been put into obtaining a realistic sound picture. There is a fine balance between the highs and the lows and Gonzalo has refrained from adding excessive bass. Set the volume a bit louder than usual and the grand fills the room as if it stood then and there. That being so, all my attention could be devoted to the soloist, pianist Paula Ríos, who is, like most of the works in this release, new to me. The short of it is that listening to her and the music is like visiting Wonderland full of passion and magic.
It is perhaps unfortunate, but some may be inclined to compare Fanny with her four years younger brother Felix asking: who was the better artist? If the conclusion is that Fanny’s ‘Vier Lieder für das Pianoforte’ do not quite match Felix’s ‘Lieder ohne Worte’, I would disagree. Besides, Fanny Hensel was a brilliant pianist as well. I think that one has to judge people on their own merits. And if you do, please look at the grand picture, including the social aspects. Listening to what is on offer in this new release, we have a selection of piano music that surpasses much of Fanny’s male contemporaries and should under no circumstances remain under wraps.
Apparently, Mme Ríos thought so, too, and she conveys them with all the emotional elegance and eloquent regard they deserve. The two poignantly laden Sonatas, the youthful ‘Oster Sonata’ (1828) and the Sonata in G-minor written shortly before her tragic death, have already successfully found their way to the recording studios, but are not yet available in Super Audio. They are here in a reading that compares positively against any of the RBCD competition but in superior sound. The minor works in between are not minor in terms of quality. The two so far never recorded Allegro-molto (No. 5) and Andantino (No.12) stand out with a compassionate (5) and considerate and beautifully shaped (12) interpretation. A most welcome addition to the catalogue.
I have enjoyed every bit of the recital. If you don’t have it, do get it!
Blangy-le-Château, Normandy, France.
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