Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Felix  Mendelssohn, Livia Rev|
Mendelssohn: Songs Without Words
Genres: Special Interest, Classical
Mendelssohn's Lovely Miniatures Played with Grace and Style
J Scott Morrison | Middlebury VT, USA | 01/03/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Although Felix Mendelssohn was himself a virtuoso pianist, his 'Songs Without Words' do not challenge a pianist technically. That is perhaps one reason they, or at least some of them, are beloved of piano students the world over. Indeed, these pieces are among the loveliest miniatures in the piano repertoire. They are rarely heard in professional piano recitals -- although I recall once hearing András Schiff play one of the Venetian Boat Songs as an encore -- and they tend to be looked down upon by some. But for all that, they are gems of immaculate craft and beauty. And Lívia Rév, a Hungarian pianist of enormous talent who has recorded many piano miniatures in her career, is the perfect pianist to record the entire set of 49 pieces. And, to tell the truth, there haven't been that many recordings of the complete set of 'Lieder ohne Worte.' True, Daniel Barenboim did so but in my opinion they are poorly done overall, played as if he simply wanted to get them over with.
When the first of eight books of these 'Songs Without Words' came out Mendelssohn's colleagues were puzzled because of the title of the set. They tended to assume that they were indeed songs for which Mendelssohn had suppressed the texts. But the composer explained that they were written to be 'sung' by the piano, and indeed formally they fall into three different song categories: solo song, vocal duet, and part-song. Mendelssohn gave only three of them names -- each of the three he designated a 'Venetianisches Gondellied' ('Venetian Boat Song') -- but a number of them have acquired names given by others. Probably the most famous of these is Op. 62, No. 6, 'Spring Song.' And then there is the 'Spinning Song,' Op. 67, No. 4 (known in some parts by the cutesy title, 'The Bees' Wedding,' for reasons I've never understood). The latter is a perfect little scherzo of great originality.
Rév recorded these pieces in 1986 and they were issued at full-price on the Hyperion label. They are now offered on the mid-price Hyperion Dyad label and are worth every penny. This is a set to dip into at random, or to hear straight through. The piano sound is quite rich and lifelike and it shows off Rév's nuanced and always beautiful touch. The booklet notes are exemplary. The first few bars of each 'Song' are printed, followed by a brief discussion of the piece in English, German and French. This is extraordinarily helpful when one wants to hear a particular piece but doesn't recall its opus number or key. Thank you, Hyperion, for going the extra mile here!
A strong recommendation.
2 CDs TT=125'11"