Fanny & Felix Mendelssohn: Piano Sextet, Piano Quartet, Piano Trio
Nineteenth-century patriarchal convention decreed that Fanny Mendelssohn should stand in the shadow of her younger brother Felix and her husband, the artist Wilhelm Hensel. For all that, however, she harnessed the advantages of a first-rate musical education to compose more than 450 works, including one of the first string quartets by a woman. Kaleidoscope Chamber Collective bring a touch of magic to Fanny’s elegant Quartet in A-Flat Major, allowing its radiant themes and fleeting moods to ebb and flow with rare grace and beauty. There’s a compelling intensity about the British-based group’s reading of her lyrical Trio in D Minor, among the last works she completed before her premature death, matched by their wholehearted performance of Felix Mendelssohn’s little-known Sextet, a delightfully optimistic work, scored for five strings and piano, that its teenaged composer wrote within a fortnight in the spring of 1824.