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Reflecting on the transitional German kammer period between Beethoven and Brahms, this album glimpses 1840s life and women in Dresden and Berlin. Clara Schumann (Wieck), serious and orderly, was Robert’s long-lived wife. Fanny Mendelssohn (Hensel), more fantastical, was Felix’s short- lived older sister.

Clara’s G minor Trio (1846) is a cultured offering, deftly crafted, with a touch of fugato in the finale naturally integrated within argument and texture. Contrastingly, Fanny’s posthumously published D minor essay (1847) is less predictable, oscillating between modes and moods variously tempestuous and tender, rough and refined, entreating and ebullient. The dolcissimo of the middle movements is special, Hölderlin’s words never far away – ‘I was raised by the sounds/ Of rustling groves/ And learned to love/ Among flowers. I grew up in the arms of the gods’. Her early E-flat Quartet (1834), based on an unfinished piano sonata, drew Felix’s disapproval. But she left its unconventionalities, oddities and poetics unchanged, their spell enduringly personal and distinctive.

Unsurprisingly, the Nash excel in this repertory, seeking out corners, rising to the climaxes, responsive to passion without sentimentality or theatrics. Pianistically, Simon Crawford-Phillips offers a masterclass in discretion at the service of presence. Splendid.

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