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Hyperion Records

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The Temple of Juno in Agrigento by Caspar David Friedrich (1774-1840)
De Agostini Picture Library / Bridgeman Art Library, London
Track(s) taken from CDA68059
Recording details: June 2013
St Silas the Martyr, Kentish Town, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Annabel Connellan
Engineered by Ben Connellan
Release date: July 2014
Total duration: 14 minutes 49 seconds

'Howard Shelley … shows himself ideally cast. His poise and vehemence give substance to even the composer's more facile utterances. Time and again Shelley makes it clear that Mendelssohn has a special place in his affections, and although it is invidious to locate the finer moments in his unfailing expertise, certain performances stand out for their exceptional grace and commitment. What suppleness and expressive beauty in the Andante prefacing the evergreen Rondo capriccioso, what virtuosity in the wildly skittering finale of the F sharp minor Fantasia. What quiet eloquence Shelley achieves in the sixth of the Songs without Words (Book 2), where the gondolier sings his plaintive song above a gently rocking accompaniment' (Gramophone) » More

'Eminently attractive, a mix of the agreeably tuneful, romantically pictorial, invigoratingly dashing and elegantly crafted. Shelley is the stylish master of it all … books 2 and 3 of the Songs without words include some gems, and also some spirited numbers (for example, No 4 of Book 2 is marked 'Agitato e con fuoco'). Full of narrative whatever the tempo, this set concludes with the well-known and enigmatic 'Venetianisches Gondollied' with Mendelssohn exploring similar waters to those found in Chopin's Barcarolle. Similar delights follow in Book 3, the concluding 'Duetto' melting the heart in a manner that is rather Schumannesque, and so lovingly shaped by Shelley. Yes, all good stuff, and thoroughly recommended' (International Record Review) » More

Lieder ohne Worte III, Op 38
composer
published in 1837; dedicated to Rosa von Woringen

Other recordings available for download
Lívia Rév (piano)
Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
Published in 1837, the third volume of Lieder ohne Worte, Op 38, was among the first works of Mendelssohn to appear after his wedding to Cécile Jeanrenaud, daughter of a French Huguenot minister whose family had settled in Frankfurt. Like Op 30, Op 38 was dedicated to a woman, Rosa von Woringen (sister of Elise). But as in Op 30, several pieces were written for other women, including the pensive No 2, for the soprano Henriette Grabau, and the brilliantly arpeggiated No 3, for the eighteen-year-old Clara Wieck. In a special category by itself was No 6. Titled Duetto, it bore Mendelssohn’s specific instruction to highlight the two melodic voices throughout. Alternating in the soprano and tenor and then joining together, the two voices represented the composer and his fiancée, as he at once penned an intimate love song, but also drew on a tradition extending back to Weber’s Aufforderung zum Tanz (‘Invitation to the Dance’) and Mozart’s duet ‘Là ci darem la mano’ from Don Giovanni. Of the other Lieder, No 4, framed by a short, improvisatory prelude and postlude, is in a homophonic style resembling a part-song. The more extended No 5, in a compound metre and propelled by agitated syncopations, perhaps suggests a ballad reminiscent of Schubert’s Erlkönig, performed by Mendelssohn with Henriette Grabau in Leipzig in March 1837, only a month before he composed the piano piece.

from notes by R Larry Todd © 2014


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