Songs Without Words Import
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|1. "Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme, No. 2, BWV 645"|
|2. "Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland, No. 3, BWV 659"|
|3. "Nun freut euch, lieben Christen g'mein, No. 4, BWV 734"|
|4. "Ich ruf zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ, No. 5, BWV 639"|
|5. "Lieder ohne Worte, Op. 19, No. 3"|
|6. "Lieder ohne Worte, Op. 67, No. 2"|
|7. "Lieder ohne Worte, Op. 30, No. 4"|
|8. "Lieder ohne Worte, Op. 19, No. 1"|
|9. "Lieder ohne Worte, Op. 19, No. 5"|
|10. "Lieder ohne Worte, Op. 30, No. 6"|
|11. "Lieder ohne Worte, Op. 38, No. 3"|
|12. "Lieder ohne Worte, Op. 102, No. 5"|
|13. "Lieder ohne Worte, Op. 38, No. 2"|
|14. "Lieder ohne Worte, Op. 30, No. 2"|
|15. "Lieder ohne Worte, Op. 67, No. 1"|
|16. "Lieder ohne Worte, Op. 38, No. 6"|
|17. "Lieder ohne Worte, Op. 67, No. 4"|
|18. "Lieder ohne Worte, Op. 53, No. 4"|
|19. "Lieder ohne Worte, Op. 62, No. 2"|
|20. Auf dem Wasser zu singen [No. 2 from 12 Lieder]|
See all 23 tracks on this disc
The heart of this collection is 15 of Mendelssohn's Songs Without Words, those eternally lovely miniatures, well selected and played by Perahia with the lyrical sense the music needs. Too bad he didn't record them all. The disc opens with four of Busoni's Bach transcriptions, all organ chorale preludes based on sung hymns (hence the connection and the title). These, too, are well done, very clear and fleet and with impressive agility in "Nun freut euch, lieben Christen g'mein." The conclusion is four of Liszt's brilliant arrangements of Schubert songs, again played with wonderful lyricism and some high drama that indicates Perahia knows the original songs and their texts very well. Despite the title, the album isn't totally congruent, but everything on it is well worth hearing. --Leslie Gerber --This text refers to an alternate Audio CD edition.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
The middle section has 15 of the best of the Mendelssohn "Songs Without Words". I know that many think him not one of the great ones and that Mendelssohn's reputation has slipped in the past thirty years. But I think this is very wrong. I urge you to get to know his music and to try and hear it with fresh ears. These pieces are a very nice place to start. There is a great deal to love in these pieces and if you can play the piano dust off this music and play them. They are much fun and reward the effort.
The disk ends with four Liszt transcriptions of Schubert Lieder. Well, I know and love these pieces and have peformed the "Staendchen" several times. It is WONDERFUL. These performances of these transcriptions show off the genius of three wonderful musicians - Schubert and Liszt and Perahia. "Auf dem Wasser zu singen" is one of my favorite songs.
You might want to pick up the first volume of the Ian Bostridge recordings of the Schubert songs to here the originals of some of these and to read the words. Very moving and Liszt does a lot to tell their story with his transcriptions. It isn't just for show show, even if it does add to the original. But this was authentic nineteenth century performance practice.
Perahia is never a showy pianist, but he always seems to have all the virtuosity he needs. He never seems to be walking a tightrope and teasing us that he might fall. Instead he overwhelms us with his poetic heart and lyrical playing. He has power, but like all great pianists he makes us feel he has more in reserve (he may not, but he never sounds like he is hitting the wall). And he doesn't ever make ugly sounds on the piano. I love his playing. I have been fortunate to hear him play live several times over the past couple of decades and it has always been a complete delight. Just like this wonderful disk.
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.
If you are interested in hearing more of the Songs Without Words by Felix Mendlessohn, I might recommend the Luba Edlina recording on Chandos. She may not have the robust pyrotechnics of Perahia, but she more than makes up for that by paying a little closer attention to the dynamics of each piece.