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Reviews, recommendations and essays on classical, jazz and world music

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For the sonatas are not among Mendelssohn's ripest works, despite the high opus number of two of them. Indeed, he was only six months past his twelfth birthday when he turned out the earliest of them (No. 2), and he wasn't even that far past his eighteenth when he drew the last bar-line of the last one (No. 3). This is not to say that they are not pleasant--even delightful--pieces, and, as the work of a kid, they show amazing ability and self-confi­dence. (If I had a pre-pubescent son who strolled in and dashed off something of the sort for the vicar, I'm not certain whether I'd fall on my knees in gratitude, or toss him out on his ear for being a smart-aleck.)

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This set finishes out the canon as perform­ed by the Messrs. Zukerman and Barenboim, about as powerful a team as you'll encounter today, and certainly as famous a one. The album also provides a nice overview of the series if you are not having more than one.

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But for my money, the real goody is the solo motet, in which Jennifer Smith, undaunted by the Herculean vocal problems posed, sings like an angel in ecstasy.

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