Mendelssohn: Songs & Duets, Vol. 2

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COMPOSERS: Mendelssohn
LABELS: Hyperion
WORKS: Songs & Duets, Vol. 2
PERFORMER: Sophie Daneman (soprano), Stephan Loges (baritone), Eugene Asti (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: CDA 67137
As a composer of songs with words Mendelssohn has often been underrated. It is true that he sometimes shows a reluctance to break beyond the comfortable confines of the drawing-room, yet among his hundred or so Lieder are some that are genuinely affecting, as well as entirely original in conception. The setting of Goethe’s ‘Die Liebende schreibt’, for instance, with the young girl’s desperate longing for a sign of affection from her lover conveyed by a sense of barely suppressed passion; or Heine’s ‘Neue Liebe’, which takes us straight into the fairy world of Mendelssohn’s very own scherzo style, before the music suddenly freezes as the shadow of death passes across the picture. One or two of the remaining songs recorded here demonstrate Mendelssohn’s astonishing precociousness – not least, ‘Der Verlassene’, whose haunting atmosphere of melancholy was conjured up at the tender age of 12.

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This repertoire is attractively and intelligently presented by Sophie Daneman and Stephan Loges (they join forces for five of Mendelssohn’s engaging duets), with the warm baritone of Loges making a particularly strong impression. Eugene Asti’s accompaniments are sensitive, but at times too bland to breathe genuine life into the music. Misha Donat