Felix Mendelssohn didn’t write many pieces for cello and piano. Most of them were composed for his younger brother, an amateur cellist (and professional banker). Judging by the complexity of the two cello sonatas, Paul Mendelssohn must have been a very accomplished amateur.
The Sonata No. 1 in B-flat, Op. 48 is a large, three-movement work that really tests the lyric ability of the cellist. Sonata No. 2 in D major, Op. 58 is an even longer four-movement work that requires a higher level of technical proficiency from the performer.
Marcy Rosen and Lydia Artymiw deliver fine performances of both works. Their playing sound truly collaborative. I imagine this is what these works may have sounded like with the Mendelssohn brothers playing together.
Rosen’s plays with a clear, singing tone that sounds quite fine in the upper register. Artymiw’s playing is also first-rate, and the piano’s recorded sound seems well-balanced across the register.
I especially liked the duo’s performance of the second sonata. They imbue the music with energy that heightens the expressive nature of the work — especially the slow movement.
Also included are three shorter works. The youthful Variations concertantes, Op. 17 has its charms. The cello part is simple but still offers plenty for a good musician to work with. And Rosen does so, her phrasing bringing out the simple beauty of the melodies.
The Lied ohne Worts, Op. 109 and Assai tranquillo are both quite short. But they’re still two more opportunities to enjoy the artistry of Rosen and Artymow.
If you enjoy Mendelssohn, this album should be in your collection.
Felix Mendelssohn: Compete Works for Cello & Piano
Marcy Rosen, violoncello; Lydia Artymiw, piano
Bridge Records, 9501