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Thursday, March 16, 2017

Felix Mendelssohn - Songs without Words (Javier Perianes)


Composer: Felix Mendelssohn
  1. Andante con variazioni, Op. 82
  2. Lieder ohne Worte, Op. 19: 1. Andante con moto
  3. Lieder ohne Worte, Op. 19: 6. "Venetianisches Gondellied". Andante sostenuto
  4. Lieder ohne Worte, Op. 30: 6. "Venetianisches Gondellied". Allegretto tranquillo
  5. Lieder ohne Worte, Op. 38: 6. "Duetto". Andante con moto
  6. Rondo capriccioso, Op. 14
  7. Lieder ohne Worte, Op. 53: 1. Andante con moto
  8. Lieder ohne Worte, Op. 53: 3. Presto agitato
  9. Lieder ohne Worte, Op. 62: 5. “Venetianisches Gondellied”. Andante con moto
  10. Lieder ohne Worte, Op. 67: 1. Andante
  11. Lieder ohne Worte, Op. 67: 2. Allegro leggiero
  12. Lieder ohne Worte, Op. 67: 3. Andante tranquillo
  13. Lieder ohne Worte, Op. 67: 6. Allegretto non troppo
  14. Prelude and Fugue in E minor, Op. 35 No. 1: I. Präludium. Allegro con fuoco
  15. Prelude and Fugue in E minor, Op. 35 No. 1: II. Fuga. Andante espressivo
  16. Lieder ohne Worte, Op. 85: 4. Andante sostenuto
  17. Lieder ohne Worte, Op. 120: 1. Andante, un poco agitato
  18. Lieder ohne Worte, Op. 102: 4. Andante un poco agitato
  19. Lieder ohne Worte, Op. 102: 6. Andante
  20. 17 Variations sérieuses, Op. 54

Javier Perianes, piano
Date: 2014
Label: Harmonia Mundi



Perhaps more than most of Mendelssohn’s output, the Songs Without Words have contributed to the saccharine image that history has passed down to us. There’s no doubt that charm is in abundant supply in these pieces, but even in the finest hands, there can be a danger of aural toothache if listened to en masse.

Javier Perianes surmounts this risk completely: first, in the selection itself; second, by interspersing them with some of Mendelssohn’s most brilliant piano pieces; and third, by the playing itself. There’s nothing small-scale about his conception of this music and, where need be, climaxes are bold – in the Capriccioso section of the Rondo capriccioso, for instance, which also exhibits a fantastically puckish quality, or in the tragedy-laden Fugue, whose darkness is only finally salved by a consoling and majestic turn to the major in the closing bars.

He can charm without trying to, thanks to a haloed sound well caught by Harmonia Mundi’s engineers, bringing a subtle range of colours to such a well-known number as the ‘Venetian Gondolier Song’ (Op 62 No 5), while the second of Op 67 gains in wistfulness from the way Perianes allows the phrases to hang in the air. By comparison, Chamayou is altogether more pert, Barenboim a degree or two slower and less spontaneous-sounding. And the Spaniard’s flexibility also makes for a very telling Variations sérieuses. Chamayou’s initial pace is a touch steadier, as if to emphasis the ‘seriousness’, but Perianes reveals that element as the piece progresses: you’re very aware of how much Mendelssohn learnt from Beethoven – appropriately enough as this was originally intended as part of an album to raise money for a statue of Beethoven in Bonn. There’s great clarity to Perianes’s fugal textures and the work’s fleeting moods are masterfully handled. While I wouldn’t be without Perahia’s ineffable performances of this repertoire, this new CD deserves a place alongside it.

-- Harriet Smith, Gramophone

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Felix Mendelssohn (3 February 1809 – 4 November 1847) was a German composer, pianist, organist and conductor of the early Romantic period. He was among the most popular composers of the Romantic era. Like Mozart, he was recognized early as a musical prodigy. Mendelssohn enjoyed early success in Germany, where he also revived interest in the music of Johann Sebastian Bach, and in his travels throughout Europe. He was particularly well received in Britain as a composer, conductor and soloist, visited there ten times. His essentially conservative musical tastes, however, set him apart from many of his more adventurous musical contemporaries.


Javier Perianes (born in 1978 in Nerva, Spain) is a classical pianist. He is a participant at many renowned festivals and has performed in distinguished concert series throughout the world. He has been a frequent prize-winner at competitions and has worked with leading conductors. Perianes has received critical acclaim for his recordings on Harmonia Mundi of Schubert's, Manuel Blasco de Nebra’s, Mompou’s, Manuel de Falla's and Grieg's piano works.


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