Stephen Fry explores his passion for controversial composer Richard Wagner. Can he salvage the music he loves from its dark association with Hitler's Nazi regime? His journey takes him to Germany, Switzerland and Russia as he pieces together the story of the composer's career. Along the way he plays Wagner's piano, meets the composer's descendants and eavesdrops on rehearsals for the Bayreuth Festival, the annual extravaganza of Wagner's music held in a theatre designed by the composer himself.
Mendelssohn's complete works for cello and piano fit on a single CD with room to spare, and your collection should have room to spare for the terrific performances contained on this disc. Cellist Elizabeth Dolin and pianist Bernadene Blaha emphasize the composer's classicism and elegance, in contrast to the somewhat wilder spin with which cellist Mark Shuman and pianist Todd Crow suffuse these works. But whereas the latter ASV release is resonant to a fault, Analekta's engineering conveys a more intimate and equally warm ambience that falls kindly on the ears. Dolin and Blaha are never less than equal partners, which is important considering that Mendelssohn treats both instruments as such. (Classics Today 10/10)