Aureole etc.

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Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

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Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

Felix MENDELSSOHN (1809-1847)
Complete works for violin and piano
Sonatas for violin and piano:

in F Major (1838) [23.40]
in F Minor, Op. 4 (1823) [19.53]
in F Major (1820) [12.48]
Movement in G Minor [2.41]
Andante in D Minor [3.23]
Fugue in D Minor [1.47]
Fugue in C Minor [1.22]
Allegro in C Major [1.30]

Nomos Duo: Nicholas Milton (vln); Nina-Margrét Grimsdóttir (pno)
Recorded in Digranes Church in Kópavogur, Iceland from 2 - 4 January, 1998
NAXOS 8.554725
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The Nomos Duo comprises an Australian violinist and an Icelandic pianist. Though both make music with other ensembles, they have been playing together since 1993 and, on the evidence of this disc have forged a most successful partnership.

Of the three sonatas recorded here only one was allotted an opus number by Mendelssohn. Indeed, the later F Major sonata was not published until 1953 when Yehudi Menuhin rescued it from obscurity. Quite why the piece should have been withheld is unclear for it is a sparkling creation. The author of the notes suggests that it prefigures the E Minor Violin Concerto: it reminded me also of the effervescent Octet

The Sonata, Op.4 is less light-hearted (it is, after all written in the minor) but it too is an attractive and fresh piece and it receives a committed performance here. So does the earliest of the sonatas, the F Major of 1820 although I must say I found the material here less interesting by comparison with the other two sonatas. The subject of the Presto finale is uncannily similar to the corresponding movement of the later F Major sonata.

The remaining five pieces on the disc are, frankly, trifles. They are included in a volume of exercises, which Mendelssohn wrote for his teacher, Carl Zelter, in 1820.

The performances by the Nomos Duo are lively and enjoyable. They are somewhat forwardly recorded and on my equipment the piano sound was rather clangy though it may reproduce differently on other systems. Although none of the music here is quite top-drawer Mendelssohn the sonatas certainly will be of interest to lovers of his music who need have no reservations about the performances offered here.

John Quinn

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