Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Felix Mendelssohn, Herbert Blomstedt, Jean-Yves Thibaudet|
Jean-Yves Thibaudet ~ Mendelssohn - Piano Concerto No. 1 & 2 ˇ Variations sérieuses, op. 54 ˇ Rondo capriccioso, op. 14
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THE SOUND OF MUSIC
DAVID BRYSON | Glossop Derbyshire England | 06/06/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)
"These concerto recordings date from 1997 and those of the solo pieces from 2001. By these dates we are entitled to expect top-class recorded sound. The sound here is quite `good' in a generalised sense, but not really, to my own ears, the kind of sound that best suits Mendelssohn. It is just a little `tubby' and does no real favours to either the solo playing or the orchestral effect. I would probably not have had much problem with this disc if I did not know certain others, but know them I do. To cap it all, in the concertos and the Rondo Capriccioso, Thibaudet seems almost to go out of his way to court comparisons putting himself at a disadvantage - he has very obviously been listening, as well he might, to Serkin.
Jeremy Siepmann's liner note alludes to Serkin's disc, from the early 60's, of the two concertos. This did much to bring the concertos back into favour and it remains a classic. However other approaches are also possible, and by way of an illuminating counterbalance there is a magnificent set of the two works by the youthful Perahia. The recorded quality on both these discs remains preferable in its distinctness to this modern set, and each pair of performances offers a different solution to a question of interpretation that crops up frequently in Mendelssohn - how to balance the slightly frantic tempo indications he sometimes gives with the general delicacy and even mildness of his style. Serkin goes for out-and-out vivacity in the fast movements, and his lyric cantabile has a burning quality to it. Perahia is a touch more relaxed and urbane. Thibaudet favours the Serkin approach, and some sudden thrusts of his left hand are highly reminiscent. The trouble with this is that there was only one Serkin, and I had only to play the performances back-to-back in order to appreciate the enormous subtlety that underlies Serkin's well-known power and tension. At least in 1997, this was not something that Thibaudet had yet encompassed for himself.
There is a rather similar story to the Rondo Capriccioso. Thibaudet's interpretation seems almost to attempt a carbon copy of the performance with which Serkin closed a recital at Lugano in 1957 (issued on Aura, so if you want it now be quick). Anyone who wishes to know what command of rhythm and timing can be ought to know it. It is no criticism of Thibaudet that he can't equal that, because in my own opinion nobody could equal Serkin in that matter, but Thibaudet almost seems to have issued a challenge he can't sustain. And that leaves the Variations Serieuses. Once again, Thibaudet's account is very good indeed. Once again, I have a performance that trumps it, on an old LP called `Horowitz Encores' treating us to a performance of the piece by that master in the 1950's. The recorded sound on this is, understandably, not third millennium quality, but more importantly it majors in clarity and gives Horowitz a further advantage over and above what nature gave him.
I would greatly have liked to sound more enthusiastic than I have managed to be, but if you want the genuine article then I have to say get the genuine article. There must be other ways of doing everything on this disc, and indeed I can think offhand of a superb rendition of the Rondo Capriccioso by Cziffra and another by Bolet. Bolet offers wonderful playing in an interpretation that I simply think misconceived, almost trying to make Mendelssohn into Chopin and - something that rules out any interpretation for me - letting the onward momentum come to a halt when the music slows down after the second occurrence of the rondo theme. Cziffra is another matter, relaxed and effortless, treating the piece like another Mendelssohn scherzo and a worthy and delightful alternative to Serkin. Thibaudet - well, I've said it already. Everything on this disc is good. The problem is the competition, and the recorded effect does not really help."
Kevin Maynard | Markyate, ST ALBANS, Hertfordshire United Kingdom | 03/13/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"If anyone still thinks that Mendelssohn is a superficial and meretricious composer, Thibaudet will convince them otherwise. His supremely intelligent reading of these Concertos and chamber works shows the dark and turbulent depths beneath the glitter. A supple and brilliant virtuoso, he lets his fingers do the walking (as well as the requisite sprinting) through this richly dappled landscape. The Variations Serieuses in particular are a real tour-de-force, and something of a revelation. Is this a definitive performance?"
I HAVE A THEORY...
NotATameLion | Michigan | 02/25/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I have a theory on Mendelssohn and his music. Both tend to get overlooked. Yet, it is clear that when his music finds itself in interpretive hands that measure up to the composer's genius--greatness shines through.
This is not the first recording of Mendelssohn's Piano Concertos that I have heard. One performance that I truly liked and enjoyed was Stephen Hough's recording on Hyperion. However, even his able hands left me feeling that this was pretty, but less than exceptional music.
Much like the Cho-Liang Lin recording of Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto and the Eroica Quartet's recording of his 3rd and 4th String Quartets, this recording finally brought these pieces to full life for me--and smacked me upside the head with their composer's awesome ability. I am thankful for such rude awakenings encountered along the path.
This makes me wonder if I will ever similarly re-encounter Mendelssohn's symphonies or even Elijah or Paulus. I have come to firmly believe that it is a lack of sympathetic perfomance rather than any intrinsic lack of worth in his works that has kept Mendelssohn and his music at a proverbial arm's-length from that warm place in my heart where Bach, Mahler, Vaughan Williams and Arnold dwell.
While I'm waiting, I suggest you check out this recording if you haven't already heard it.
I give it my highest recommendation."