I didn't know what to expect when I bought this recording, since I had only heard one of the twenty three selections presented here before. Overall I found it to be a true revelation, and I've listened to it many times since with growing pleasure. In selecting these pieces, it seems that Perahia has given himself a well-deserved break from taking on heavyweight interpretations of Handel and Bach, and a relaxed, unselfconscious pleasure shines through in his playing. With his understated elegance and crystalline tone, you couldn't ask for a better interpreter.
Although the recording is named after the selections from the Mendelssohn pieces of the same name, the real highlights for me are the Bach and Schubert transcriptions done by Busoni and Liszt respectively. With the Bach you have some glorious organ works infused with subtle touches of late-nineteenth century romanticism, which fleshes them out just a little without diminishing their highly refined qualities. All four selections are serene masterpieces, beautifully executed. The Schubert transcriptions however, are a wonder, pure and simple. I don't know Schubert's songs, but have most of his Sonatas and all of his Impromptus and Moments Musicaux. With these four pieces, I feel like I've discovered another set of Impromptus, because they have all the unbounded lyricism and deceptive mood changes that make the Impromptus such masterpieces. It seems to me that Liszt remained very faithful to the spirit and sublime simplicity of Schubert's melodies here, eschewing the romantic flourishes and breathtaking technical demands that characterize his own compositions. Once I heard these pieces, I was reminded too that Perahia is a superb exponent of Schubert, with his recording of the Impromptus being among the very best. The Mendelssohn complements the other selections very well, and I'm glad this recording introduced me to them, but they are comparatively light compared to the Bach and Schubert transcriptions. They seem to fall somewhere between Chopin's Nocturnes and some of his Etudes and Preludes, but on the whole they don't have the same kind of atmospheric drama that Chopin could conjure forth in the space of a few minutes. Still, I can't really fault Mendelssohn here simply because he's not quite a Bach, a Schubert, or a Chopin. So buy this recording--it's incredibly soothing and meditative without being in any way superficial, and it'll bring a lot of listening pleasure.