The Strad's experts evaluate the latest string recordings
Mendelssohn: Variations concertantes op.17, Cello Sonatas no.1 in B flat major op.45 & no.2 in D major op.58, Lied ohne Worte op.109, Assai tranquillo
A persuasive account of Mendelssohn’s complete works for cello and piano
Monday, 26 May 2014
THE STRAD RECOMMENDS
Marie Macleod (cello) Martin Sturfält (piano)
Stone Records 5060192780383
Marie Macleod and Martin Sturfält’s partnership had reached its sixth anniversary when these live performances were recorded. Their compelling accounts, expertly captured in 2009, reveal little evidence of an audience presence, but have all the spontaneity of the concert platform. They tackle Mendelssohn’s two sonatas with a winning unanimity, vivacity and youthful spirit. They convey the lyricism and contrasting moods of the outer movements of no.1 with deft musicianship and characterise the intermezzo-like central Andante with piquancy and finesse, giving due expression to its major-mode kernel. They also give an exhilarating reading of the heroic first movement and energetic finale of no.2. Sturfält’s digital dexterity easily surmounts Mendelssohn’s pianistic challenges and Macleod, sometimes matching him in athleticism, plays with an impassioned lyricism, particularly in the Second Sonata’s recitative-like Adagio and its mischievous intermezzo’s central section.
Both artists dispatch the Variations concertantes with enviable rapport, imagination and panache, right from the simple opening through the fiery fourth and dance-like fifth to the agitated seventh and the extended final variation. They introduce countless musical subtleties en route, highlighting harmonic interest, shaping phrases sensitively and exploiting a wide expressive palette. The Lied ohne Worte op.109 and the Assai tranquillo fragment showcase Macleod’s colourful sound at its most radiant.
Clip: Mendelssohn Cello Sonata no.1: 1st movement
From the June 2014 issue. Subscribe to The Strad or download our digital edition as part of a 30-day free trial.