Chandos CHAN 10701
Mendelssohn: Works for Cello and Piano – Paul and Huw Watkins
On this disc the Watkins brothers, Huw and Paul, join forces to perform works by Felix Mendelssohn for cello and piano. The two sonatas which Mendelssohn composed for his younger brother, a cellist, are characterised by a strong and complex undercurrent of feeling, and superb artistry. Schumann, who recognised them as light and extremely tuneful examples of the genre, suggested that the Sonata in B flat major was ‘for the most refined family circle, to be enjoyed at its best, perhaps, after some poems by Goethe or Lord Byron’.
In his day, the name of Mendelssohn was strongly associated with the so-called Lieder ohne Worte (Songs without Words), collections of charming and intimate miniatures for solo piano. Only on one occasion did Mendelssohn compose a work in this genre specifically for cello and piano: the poetic and lyrical Lied ohne Worte, Op. 109, recorded here, which he dedicated to Lisa Cristiani, one of the few women cellists of the time.
Huw Watkins is the pianist on this recording. A highly regarded performer of contemporary and twentieth-century works, he is also a composer in his own right, whose works have been commissioned, performed, and recorded by the likes of the London Symphony Orchestra, BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra, and Nash Ensemble. Paul Watkins, an exclusive Chandos artist and one of Britain’s foremost cellists, performs regularly with the major British orchestras and has made six appearances as a concerto soloist at the BBC Proms. A rapidly developing conductor, in 2009 he took up appointments as Music Director of the English Chamber Orchestra and Principal Guest Conductor of the Ulster Orchestra.
For Chandos the Watkins brothers have previously recorded a disc of sonatas and variations for cello and piano by Martin? (CHAN 10602), of which Fanfare wrote: ‘The performances are superb. I particularly admire Paul Watkins’s unforced cello sound and the fluency and shapeliness of Huw Watkins’s piano playing.’