We do know that all good things come from above, like the stars that fall from the night sky into the lap of a poor orphan child as Sterntaler in the fairy tale of the same name by the Brothers Grimm, who collects the shining gift of heaven with her new, fine linen shirt. In the song of the US-American film comedy of the same name, Pennies from Heaven from 1936 by Arthur Johnston and Johnny Burke, the shining gift from heaven in the form of pennies rains down on a city: "Every time it rains, it rains pennies from heaven. Don't you know each cloud contains pennies from heaven? You'll find your fortune's fallin' all over the town. Be sure that your umbrella is upside down. Trade them fora package of sunshine and flowers..."
The Mandelring Quartet has chosen precisely this penny song as the title for their new album, which brings together a colorful mixture of the quartet's favorite pieces from the classical repertoire and light music in the broadest sense, including the title song of the film comedy of the same name in a special arrangement tailored to the Mandelring Quartet. Founded in 1983, the Mandelring Quartet is one of the world's leading ensembles in this genre. Currently, the quartet, which is documented on the Berlin label Audite, consists of the siblings Sebastian, Nanette (both violin) and Bernhard Schmidt (cello) as well as their friend violist Andreas Willwohl.
The Adagio from Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's first string quartet proves to be a highlight of the Mandelring Quartet's new album. The first piece of "Pennies for Heaven" is Fritz Kreisler's parodistic "Miniature Viennese March", originally composed for violin and piano, to which the quartet owes nothing of the sparkling character of a salon piece of Viennese art. It is extremely difficult not to dance along to the rousing polka allegretto from Shostakovich's ballet "The Golden Age". The Mandelring Quartet takes us into the world of tango with a swinging approach in strong competition to the usual bandoneon instrumentation with "La vi llegar" by Enrique Francini and "Cafetin de Buenos Aires" by Mariano Mores in a convincing arrangement by Werner Thomas-Mifune. As a contrast to the polka, the Mandelring Quartet with the Lento from the "American String Quartet" by Antonin Dvorak takes us away into the middle of wonderfully wide swinging landscapes. The Andante cantabile from the String Quartet No. 1 by Peter Tchaikovsky goes straight to the heart. Then the sun rises again with Joseph Haydn's "Bird Quartet". The post goes off with Stevie Wonder's "Sir Duke" and last but not least with William C. Handy's adaptation of the St. Louis Blues, which the Mandelring Quartet presents in a downright burschy manner.
The music on the Mandelring Quartet's album Pennies from Heaven proves to be a brilliant gift from heaven, which in the form of star-worthy interpretations of classical pieces and always to the point delivered pieces of light music in a colorful mixture spreads nothing less than pure joy and soothing comfort at the end of the virus-induced problematic year 2020.