on 14 September 2013
The main pieces here are the two sonatas for cello and piano, each between 20 and 25 minutes, and they are played beautifully by Susan Tomes and Richard Lester, long co-workers in Domus and the Florestan Trio. They are perfectly in synch here, and the Hyperion sound (originally 1988) does them justice. These pieces are much less knotty and much more immediately appealing than Brahms's sonatas, and it seems as if the first at least might be playable by gifted amateurs. It seems to belong to the realm of domestic music and not strive for big concert-hall effects. That said, it is lovely and tuneful, and the thematic material in each movement is developed in a way that never takes us too far from pleasing melody. The second sonata contains more surprises -- it has four movements (the first has three) and starting with the allegretto scherzando second, there are surprises in every movement. The trio of the second is one of Mendelssohn's loveliest inspirations, and it comes as a surprise after the scherzando opening. This is the movement to sample -- it seems gorgeous to me. The Adagio third movement is very brief, rhapsodic, and almost improvisitory in its feeling. Tomes produces lovely harp-like effects here. The finale starts spryly but then develops in some unexpected directions that require considerable skill from the players. It's a delight too. The shorter pieces that make up the rest of Mendelssohn's complete output for these instruments are well-played too. This is a very appealing recording.