Mendelssohn: Lieder ohne Worte

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COMPOSERS: Mendelssohn
LABELS: Erato Ultima
WORKS: Lieder ohne Worte
PERFORMER: Annie d’Arco (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 3984-25597-2 ADD Reissue (1960)
Annie d’Arco’s recording of the Mendelssohn Songs Without Words, played complete in their published order, dates from 1960. It is a solid, pleasing account of these deceptively difficult works: she succeeds in creating an intimate atmosphere without letting a shred of sentimentality creep in. Her strongest moments include the more fleet-fingered, quicksilver pieces; in slower ones (as in the first piece, Op. 19/1) she occasionally seems to plod and dramatic moments can feel slightly too portentous (eg Op. 53/2). The sound quality is warm but not particularly bright. András Schiff (Decca) offers only about half of the Songs Without Words (though probably the best of them), performed in a sequence which seems to maximise the contrasts; this pianist’s more than usually songful tone and lightness of touch suit Mendelssohn’s music well (eg, the ‘Spinnerlied’ Op. 67/4 or the Op. 102/3 Presto), while his superb voicing gives the ‘Duetto’ Op. 38/6 an almost organ-like sound, aided by bright and resonant acoustics. Jessica Duchen