Notes and Editorial Reviews
This is a hybrid Super Audio CD playable on both regular and Super Audio CD players.
Few collectors and fewer critics paid attention to Ilse von Alpenheim's 1975 Philips Mendelssohn recital when it originally appeared on vinyl. Hopefully PentaTone's multi-channel SACD refurbishment will help make amends and attract new listeners, for Von Alpenheim's musicianly charm is hard to resist in this repertoire. In the Op. 14 Andante she uses rubato not so much to stretch phrases as to group them into asymmetrical sentences. The rondo that follows moves at a conservative and arguably unscintillating tempo that nevertheless allows for the utterly even and superbly articulated double notes and octaves to speak rather than scramble.
Cogent lines and well-sprung rhythms reinforce the Op. 106 sonata first movement's kinship with Beethoven's feistier Op. 106 first movement. The Scherzo's cross-rhythmic effects are incisive and forward moving, yet are still played at a true Allegro non troppo. Only Von Alpenheim's intimately nuanced yet slightly underplayed finale doesn't quite live up to her excellence elsewhere.
Similarly, the Perahia and Thibaudet Variations sérieuses recordings surpass Alpenheim for color and glitter, although her perfectly integrated tempos and imaginative left-hand detailing are nothing to take for granted. Nor is her Op. 16 Scherzo, which approaches the kind of supple and light-fingered insouciance that Ignaz Friedman and Benno Moiseiwitsch incomparably served up on their legendary shellac versions. Notwithstanding its brief playing time (46 minutes), it's good to have this fine, long-overlooked release back in the catalog for Mendelssohn's anniversary year.
--Jed Distler, ClassicsToday.com
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