Daniel Barenboim / Laura Volkwein / Claudius Popp / Hanno Müller-Brachmann - Staatsoper Unter den Linden Berlin, 8 March 2009
Mendelssohn Sonate für Violoncello und Klavier B-Dur op. 45
Frühlingslied op. 47/3
Auf Flügeln des Gesanges op. 34/2
Wanderlied op. 57/6
Sonate für Violoncello und Klavier D-Dur op. 58
Neue Liebe op. 19a/4
Der Mond op. 86/5
Reiselied op. 34/6
Andres Maienlied op. 8/8
Trio für Violine, Violoncello und Klavier d-Moll op. 49
How does Daniel Barenboim do it? Get up in time for an 11am concert on a Sunday, that is. I could barely wrench myself out of bed. Staatsoper colleagues Claudius Popp (cello), Laura Volkwein (violin) and Hanno Müller-Brachmann joined him to celebrate Mendelssohn's 200th birthday in front of a packed-out Staatsoper.
Popp's aggressive, muscular playing fitted the Barenboim mould perfectly. Anyone who'd expected a genteel Sunday morning's music-making would have been severely disappointed. This was not chocolate-box Mendelssohn, but something far more raw and meaty.
Evidently recovered from Friday's Parsifalthon, Barenboim matched every ounce of his much younger partner's energy. Here was a glint of how he manages to maintain his punishing performance schedule. There's nothing forced about it - he simply loves what he does and summons up a kind of natural caffeine to fuel it.
Hanno Müller-Brachmann too gave it everything he'd got. The Staatsoper is not a venue that invites subtlety, and it suited Müller-Brachmann's full-on approach better than the Wigmore in January. Here he can let go. His attention to colouring of the text is remarkable; his only chink an inability to sustain a note cleanly. What's more, even in lieder he's a compelling stage presence and a natural actor, able to extract every nuance of a song and play it all the way to the back row.
The remarkable empathy of this little team was underlined in the closing trio - so powerfully and joyfully delivered it generated spontaneous applause after the second movement.