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New album: Mendelssohn, Schumann, Wagner

The music of Mendelssohn, Schumann, and Wagner featured on this album needs no introduction: it is part of the treasure house of world musical culture and the pride of German romantic music. 

It is loved and listened to at all concert venues, it is a subject of numerous musicological studies, and it has been recorded hundreds of times. It would seem that such a wide coverage and fame exclude the possibility of radically new readings of this musical material. However, our new recording, as it seems to me, may be of interest to listeners from this particular point of view.

Performed by the St. Petersburg chamber orchestra Divertissement and its soloists, all the recorded works are transcriptions and arrangements. Without losing a single note from the original scores, each of these pieces have acquired features that are characteristic of the specifics of a homogeneous string sound: Mendelssohn’s two salon Konzertstücke (Opp. 113 and 114) for two clarinets and piano have become small spectacular concertos for violin, viola and string orchestra; the new version of Schumann’s famous Cello Concerto (Op. 129) for violin and string orchestra is now flexible, graphic, and “intimately confidential” like a quartet; and, transcribed for strings, Wagner’s epic canvas seems to herald Schoenberg’s Transfigured Night with its ever-lasting sound stream, endless bows, and sensual harmonies and timbres.

Like the great German artist Albrecht Dürer’s famous woodcut with a fantastic and original rather than a bona fide image of a rhinoceros, our album offers an original approach to well-known and certainly recognizable works that now sound in a new, bright, and intriguing way. Ilya Ioff