Felix Mendelssohn, whose centenary we celebrate this year, was the ultimate cosmopolitan composer, but formed a special relationship with Britain, which he visited ten times.
A number of his works were written in response to English commissions, including Elijah, and the Six Sonatas for Organ which have become established repertoire for organists and are some of Mendelssohn’s last compositions.
Mendelssohn was the first composer of international renown after J.S. Bach to return to the organ, and performed publicly on English organs during all his visits, audiences coming in droves to hear him. The sound of the English organ of his day had some distinctive qualities, which have been captured on this recording by William Whitehead, who uses the 1818 Lincoln Organ now situated in the Ballroom at Buckingham Palace.
It is not known whether Mendelssohn played this particular instrument but we know that he was a warmly welcomed guest of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert at the Palace on numerous occasions. Recently restored, the organ gives an English perspective on this ebullient music which crosses international boundaries of style.
It is the first time an authentic instrument of this period has been used to record Mendelssohn’s Six Organ Sonatas.