REVIEW: Funtington Music Group

The Funtington Music Group was introduced to the Music of Fanny Mendelssohn on 9 May at the University of Chichester. Angela Zanders talked about her life, her marriage to Wilhelm Hensel, and her relationship with her brother Felix, within the context of the piano piece Das Jahr [The Year]. This is a cycle of 13 character pieces for each month of the year with an Epilogue, which Angela played in full.

Angela Zanders
Angela Zanders

This approach was outstandingly effective as a lecture recital, and Angela Zanders gave the audience a fascinating insight into a composer who is so little known. Very few of her 460 works for instance have been published. The sub-title of Angela’s presentation was “Forgotten Genius” and this seems very much to have been the case, probably as Fanny was a woman in an early 18th Century man’s world. She did publish some of her works, but often under the name of Felix, her brother.

The piece chosen for this concert, Das Jahr, was very appropriate, as it shows Fanny’s musical talent as a composer extremely well. It was written just after her return from Italy, and unfortunately just before she died in 1842, aged only 42.

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There is such variety in the music, from the unaffected lyricism, of say the month of May, to the crisp and exciting concluding months of November and December. Angela Zanders’ performance was full of delightful details, played with a sense of flow, often intimate in detail, allowing the music to speak with its own sense of originality.

At times there is the need for intricate virtuosity, particularly in the month of August. In other months, such as July, the music demands a complete contrast in tone and texture. Indeed, the music appears brooding, atmospheric and sometimes quite disillusioned. Angela ably moved from mood to mood, transitioning with unaffected confidence and effectiveness.

This piece is not well-known, but it was definitely worthwhile having Angela Zanders explore, explain and perform Fanny Mendelssohn’s Das Jahr. She deservedly earned the enthusiastic applause of the audience.

Chris Hough, Chairman of the Funtington Music Group, said, “thank you Angela for so effectively bringing to life for us, this wonderful piece of music from such a neglected composer. Your consummate playing and insightful lecture were outstanding!”

Further details of the Funtington Music Group can be obtained from the Membership Secretary, Mrs Elizabeth Brooks, on 01 243 378900.