The sonatas in this captivating recital epitomise three key stages in the history of Romanticism. Mendelssohn did more than any other composer to ensure a seamless transition between the Classicism of Haydn and Mozart and the lyrical expansiveness of a new era. His 1838 Sonata tantalises the senses, combining passion and brilliance with meticulously balanced precision. By the time his friend Schumann began work on his D minor Sonata just 13 years later, the Romantic era was in full swing, and his lifelong exploration of alternative dreamworlds had begun to affect his own ability to keep a firm hold on reality. Janáček’s Sonata was composed on the eve of the First World War at a time when the old social order and the Romantic dream were on the point of extinction, reflected in a multi-faceted score of searing emotional intensity and often startling changeability. Mendelssohn was one of the great musical polymaths of the 19th century. There was seemingly nothing he could not turn his hand to with equal success, from philosophy, linguistics and swimming to water colours, poetry and gymnastics, yet it was above all music that activated his insatiable genius. In addition to his almost unparalleled achievements as a boyhood composer and pianist, he was also an outstanding violinist and violist. ‘He never touched a string instrument the whole year round,’ recalled fellow composer-conductor Ferdinand Hiller (1811–1885), ‘but if he wanted to he could do it, as he could most other things.’ Yet in later life, with many other commitments sapping away at his energies, the violin only came out of its case when Felix was called upon to fill out domestic chamber ensembles as the need arose.