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Jessica Duchen Jessica Duchen | 16:17 UK time, Wednesday, 4 February 2009

caspar_david_friedrich_wanderer.jpgSome more party-goers! As I have not yet broken the spell that lets one place comments on the posts in response to yours, dear readers, this seems the best way to respond [I've just sorted it - Ed.] Thank you for your ideas. I think Caspar David Friedrich is a wonderful addition to the guest-list - thank you, kleines c. Mendelssohn was a fine painter himself and even if they did not know each other, the chances are they would have got on extremely well. If I were a record label producing a Mendelssohn series, I would place CDF's paintings on the front of all of them.

Brahms is another kindred-spirit-manqué, and if we can distract him from moping about after Clara for a while, he could be an excellent social addition. Perhaps he will perform some acrobatics on the banisters for us, as he used to in Düsseldorf for the Schumann children (according to Eugenie Schumann's memoirs). The chances are, however, that Wagner might not condescend to RSVP, since he bore Mendelssohn a major grudge for turning down his early symphony when he submitted it to the Leipzig Gewandhaus. Words come to mind about memory and elephants.

Arriaga is indeed underrated, wonderful and a tragic loss to the world of music; he must join us. And Morton Feldman? I'd love to know what Mendelssohn would have made of his soundworld, but I should say right now that I'm not going to attempt that blow-by-blow comparison somebody suggested a few weeks back. If anyone would like have a go, however, please feel free to post it to the comments box.

Of course, we have to ask some performers to play the music, so that Felix, Clara and co can relax and enjoy their cyberchampers. I would especially like to invite Ferdinand David, Mendelssohn's childhood friend, orchestra leader and soloist at the premiere of the Violin Concerto. He might enjoy meeting that glorious trio of Jascha Heifetz, Gregor Piatigorsky and Arthur Rubinstein, who fortuitously were filmed playing the D minor trio. There can have been few less physically demonstrative musicians - Heifetz especially gives away no sign of emotion while he plays - yet that is because the entire focus goes into the playing. An Alexander Technique expert would approve: extraneous effort is absent, so the music's energy can't be dissipated by excess flinging-about-of-self. The proof is in the musical results. Welcome, dear trio.

And while we're about it, please welcome three of my favourite artists of all time: Alfred Cortot, Jacques Thibaud and Pablo Casals. Could any transdimensional Mendelssohn party be complete without Casals' eloquence, Cortot's magical ethereality, or the seductive strings of Thibaud, exquisite and marvellous friend of Gabriel Fauré? Fauré must tag along too: he was passionate about Schumann and Mendelssohn, and his early music bears a strong influence from both. Hear the gorgeous Cantique de Jean Racine - its simple yet perfect melody could almost have come from Felix himself; likewise the almost-too-lovely Romances sans paroles (note title) for solo piano.

Hang on...what did you say, Jascha?...Is that so? That's kind - I'm very glad...

Mr Heifetz tells us that he will make a special exception for this celebration and, just this once, doesn't mind playing. Apparently an American society hostess once invited him to a grand dinner party, then added: 'And bring your violin.' Heifetz replied: 'Thank you, Madam, but my violin is not hungry.'

To see Heifetz play the first movement of the Violin Concerto, click on this link to YouTube..


  • 1. At 6:41pm on 04 Feb 2009, kleines c wrote:

    You are certainly going for it today, Jessica. As something of a BBC Radio 3 messageboarder, I understand fully how tensions can exist, even in a virtual community, whether or not you have ever met your fellow bloggers or posters, who seem to 'hate your guts', so to speak, whatever you say.

    Yet if you think about it for a moment, this is simply part of the human condition. We all have our likes and our dislikes, and as human beings, we are inevitably a competitive bunch of people.

    Felix Mendelssohn, for example, may not have got on particularly well with Richard Wagner, and it is arguable that Mendelssohn's reputation has been unduly damaged by this particular 'personality clash'.

    As for 'The Wanderer', in terms of the visual arts, Jessica, I suspect that you have chosen well. This is the Romantic spirit, which both Felix Mendelssohn and Richard Wagner, in their very different ways, put into music.

    Still, let the party continue. Cheers!


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  • 2. At 10:13pm on 04 Feb 2009, makhabane wrote:

    I'm not offended, but just for the record it were me who suggested inviting CDF, not kleines c.

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  • 3. At 08:45am on 05 Feb 2009, kleines c wrote:

    I can certainly confirm that it was 'makhabane' rather than 'kleines c' who suggested inviting Caspar David Friedrich (CDF), Jessica.

    Of course, makhabane, it is remarkably easy to confuse identities in cyberspace, so perhaps we should let Jessica off the hook, so to speak, on this particular occasion.

    In terms of a blog, however, everyone reading the BBC Radio 3 website is more than welcome to comment here, so in this sense, everyone is invited to Jessica's party. How else would I have got in?


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  • 4. At 10:37am on 09 Feb 2009, Lord Byron wrote:


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