Das Jahr 2020 is the first published recording of Molly McCann, my older sister of two-and-a-half years. After encouraging my sister to record her piano playing for years, she embarked on her first recording project with Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel’s Das Jahr (“The Year”, 1841), a groundbreaking cycle of twelve thematically and harmonically interlocked character pieces depicting the twelve months of the year. Putting aside her usual toil for perfection, Molly embraced a larger conceptual experience, both personal and musical in nature: to learn and perform each piece of the cycle in the corresponding calendar month, knowing the accelerated timeline would push her outside of her comfort zone and require a renewed approach to and understanding of time. With a creaky, slightly out-of-tune upright piano and her cellphone’s built-in microphone, the monthly self-recordings began in January of 2020.
“And so we try to ornament and prettify our lives—that is the advantage of artists, that they can strew such beautifications about, for those nearby to take an interest in.”
– Fanny Hensel on composing Das Jahr, Letter to August Elsasser, Nov. 11, 1841