Coming Home with Felix Mendelssohn’s Cello Works

Natural beauty. © Charles Thibo

Not too far from Luxembourg city, a small natural reserve boast an astonishing variety of flowers. Insiders know were to look for certain types of orchids. As a child I was fascinated by the different colors of the clay soil: dark red, grey, violet. Erosion has made different color patterns visible and they change over the years. That spot is an island of peace, undisturbed, and I remember that when a residential area was built nearby I imagined  blowing up the houses to preserve it in its integrity.

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What’s God gotta do with it?

Felix Austria. © Charles Thibo
Peace. © Charles Thibo

Praise. An interesting word. It is easier to blame than to praise. The society I happen to be a member of – I experience it as ego-centric, arrogant, cold-hearted. It leaves little room for praise. I try to praise whenever I see merit and whenever I can do it in an honest way. I praise my daughter when she has done well at school. I praise my team at work when we achieve what we intended to do. I praise God… well, that has come a little out of fashion in my world. Luxembourg is known for its high GDP and its many naturally born lamenters.

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Young Felix Falls in Love with Delphine

 nsbcbjk © Charles Thibo
May Mendelssohn light up a grey autumn day. © Charles Thibo

Beethoven or Mendelssohn? The massive opening of this piano concerto, certain features I would typically associate with the Vienna master, could well have led me into error. But no. Felix Mendelssohn wrote this piece, the Piano Concerto in G Major, op. 25. It is one of his earlier works and yes, he had studied Beethoven well and some of his very early works actually do emulate Beethoven’s late style. And while the master’s influence must be acknowledged on the piece, the student’s later signature as writer of “Lieder” shines already through the first movement.

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A Trio from the Mozart of Schumann’s Days

Memories of July. © Charles Thibo

In July, I wrote about Felix Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto in E Minor. I described the nostalgic feeling I sometimes have in August: Summer is not yet over, but the days are getting shorter, early morning fog announces the approaching fall. By now, we are well into autumn and I am looking back to the summer – melancholic, but determined to hold on to the beautiful moments I experienced this summer. Mendelssohn has written another piece that seems to describe that mood: Piano Trio No. 1 in D Minor, op. 49. It is on the same record than the violin concerto with Anne-Sophie Mutter playing the violin, Lynn Harrell as the cellist and André Previn at the piano.

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