ALBUM TITLE: Mendelssohn
WORKS: Lieder ohne Worte, Opp. 62, 67, 85 & 102; Lieder ohne Worte – U 82, 150, 178, 187; Sechs Kinderstücke; Zwei Stücke aus dem Notenalbum fur Eduard Benecke
PERFORMER: Ronald Brautigam (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: BIS-1983 (hybrid CD/SACD)
Oh dear. As a critic, one does hope that one is being helpful not only to the music lover but perhaps, every now and then, to the performer as well. Indeed these two categories have been known to overlap. But in the face of persistent failure to connect with a performer, what should a critic do? All the more so, when you know that the person in question is intelligent and the possessor of considerable musical gifts, both technical and interpretative. In the present case, I remember a wonderful performance by Ronald Brautigam of the Beethoven First Piano Concerto, including a splendidly jazzy performance of the finale. But, oh dear. Like not a few of his colleagues, he seems to regard solo performance, freed of the tiresome discipline of metrical regularity, to be a licence to play fast and loose with rhythms and note lengths. After four of the 37 tracks on this disc I really can’t take any more. Over and over again, what are deemed climactic notes are delayed – and not only in the Funeral March Op. 62 No. 3, on the lines I objected to recently in Howard Shelley’s recording (April 2016). At the risk of being repetitive, I have to insist that contemporary reports, from Sir George Grove, Henry Chorley and others, were adamant that Mendelssohn’s playing featured, in Chorley’s words, a ‘want of all the caprices and colourings of his contemporaries’, including ‘the aid of changes of time’. Oh dear.