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Cat. No. CHAN 10701 Price: £10.5 No. of discs: 1
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CHAN 10701 - Mendelssohn: Works for Cello and Piano
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Available From: 15 October 2011

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.’

Reviews

"Mendelssohn’s complete original works for cello and piano - excluding transcription of works for other combinations - fit very neatly onto a single disc. More importantly, they form an excellent and well contrasted programme... the recording is realistic and well balaced. All in all this a disc of superb quality which should do much to enhance even further the reputation of these two fine players ...the rapt quality of the music and music-making here is so impressive."
John Sheppard - Musicweb-international.com - January 2012

“...Enhanced state-of-the-art engineering, this outstanding recital captures the essence of Mendelssohn’s genius with compelling authority and insight.”  *****
Julian Haylock – Classic FM magazine – February 2012

“...This is a fine survey of Mendelssohn’s works for cello, immediately recorded with good balance...”
Ben Hogwood – The Classical Source.com – 1 December 2011

“...beautifully performed by the versatile Watkins brothers ..."
Paul Driver – Sunday Times – 27 November 2011

“...the brotherly team of Paul and Huw Watkins, each a distinguished musician in his own right, makes an ideal partnership for these attractive works... There have been plenty of
recommendable recordings of this music ... but this finely balanced and recorded Chandos CD now stands high on the list of recommendations.”
Ivan March – Gramophone – December 2011

                   Performance ****      Recording ***
“...The Watkins’ extraordinary fraternal partnership resonates with Mendelssohn’s own relationship to his cellist brother, Paul. Here, Huw (a composer and pianist) and elder brother Paul (a cellist and conductor) combine to create performances of warmth and intelligence... these are good performances with a true Mendelssohnian spirit.”
Helen Wallace – BBC Music Magazine – Christmas 2011

“... this new Chandos offering from the Watkins brothers, it’s instantly and unreservedly recommended.”
Michael Jameson – International Record Review – November 2011

 

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