Mendelssohn: The Complete Solo Piano Music, Vol. 1
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No 1 in E major: Andante con moto
No 2 in A minor: Andante espressivo
No 3 in A major: Molto allegro e vivace
No 4 in A major: Moderato
No 5 in F sharp minor: Poco agitato
No 6 in G minor 'Venetianisches Gondellied': Andante sostenuto
The six pieces of Op 19b offer keyboard simulations of three vocal types, the solo Lied (Nos 1 and 2), with a treble cantilena supported by an accompaniment below; duet (No 6), in which the melodic line is doubled in thirds or sixths; and part-song (Nos 3 and 4), featuring homophonic textures in chordal style. Two pieces (Nos 3 and 5) are of sufficient length to unfold in miniature sonata forms. The composer left every piece but the last untitled, though No 3, with its pursuing imitative lines and echoing horn calls, impresses as a Jagdlied (‘hunting song’), and No 4, which shares its key and some thematic material with No 3, as a Jägerlied (‘hunters’ song’). The muted No 6, the Venetianisches Gondellied, was the first of several that Mendelssohn composed and so titled, and was inspired by his visit to Venice in 1830. Its blurry pedal effects and gently undulating cross-rhythms magically conjure up the romantic allure of the Venetian lagoons.
Mendelssohn issued Op 19b and subsequent sets of Lieder ohne Worte in parallel German, French and English editions. In Paris the pieces first appeared as Romances sans paroles, and in England as Original Melodies for the Piano. The composer never used the now prevalent translation Songs without Words, nor did he authorize other descriptive titles fitted to the pieces in later editions, for example ‘Sweet Remembrance’ (No 1), ‘Regrets’ (No 2), and ‘Restlessness’ (No 5). Largely the whims of publishers, these accretions ran counter to Mendelssohn’s own aesthetic, to let the individual Lieder stand by themselves, and to trust the precision of musical expression over the ambiguities of words.
from notes by R Larry Todd © 2013