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Mendelssohn: Songs Without Words (Complete) / Daniel Gortler

Release Date: 04/28/2009 
Label:  Roméo Records   Catalog #: 7273/4   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Felix Mendelssohn
Performer:  Daniel Gortler
Number of Discs: 2 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

MENDELSSOHN Songs without Words, opp. 19b, 30, 38, 53, 62, 67, 85, 102 Daniel Gortler (pn) ROMEO 7273 (2 CDs: 120:53)

Mendelssohn composed his “Songs without Words” between the ages of 19 and 36. The complete “Songs without Words” consists of eight books of six songs each—48 brief piano pieces, each a masterpiece. And that is what we have here, but we also have more. We have the young Israeli pianist, Daniel Gortler, who is a consummate musician and who conveys Mendelssohn’s Read more various moods embodied in these brief pieces with delicacy, or force, or poetry, or humor, where appropriate. Gortler is clearly a major talent, and these pieces allow him to express this talent as a labor of love.

These piano songs vary in length from about one minute to about three-and-a-half minutes, with one exception of close to five minutes. Each one is literally unique in that there is no copying of a phrase, or even a sub-phrase, from one to include in another. In three of them, Mendelssohn pays homage to Mozart. Near the beginning of op. 30/5, Mendelssohn quotes the opening of the Rondo of the early B? Piano Sonata (K 281). Mendelssohn opens op. 38/1 by quoting the opening of the Rondo of the C-Major Piano Sonata (K 309). The entire op. 85/2 A-Minor piano song is a one-minute redolence of the Presto of Mozart’s A-Minor Piano Sonata (K 310). The accompanying jewel case insert provides none of this information, leaving it to the listener to be a musical detective. There are likely other musical quotes or allusions that I have not detected.

Andras Schiff recorded 22 of these 48 masterpieces. Consummate artist though he is, magnificent though his playing may be, his offering is sorely deficient compared to Gortler’s. But on just one count—26 of these masterpieces are absent.

All should own and listen to these CDs. Play musical detective, if you like, to outdo the reviewer! This is very beautiful music, not readily accessible for listening in its entirety.

FANFARE: Burton Rothleder

The Israeli pianist Daniel Gortler plays Mendelssohn's Songs Without Words beautifully. He commands a warm, singing sonority, tasteful musicality, plus fingerwork that is consistently fluent and well-defined. Among my favorite moments over the course of this two-disc set are the E-flat Op. 30 No. 1's gorgeously-spun legato right-hand lines against the left hand's sonorous organ-like accompaniment, the effortlessly-gauged swirling passagework in the F-sharp minor Op. 19 No. 5 Presto agitato, the A major Op. 53 No. 6 Molto Allegro, and the C major Op. 67 No. 4 Spinning Song. Even the once-hackneyed Spring Song (Op. 62 No. 6) emerges with welcome eloquence and dignity.

Granted, you may prefer Daniel Barenboim's more subjective pianism in certain selections, or the closer, fuller sonic image of Benjamin Frith's Mendelssohn cycle on Naxos, to say nothing of Ignaz Friedman's matchless epic style on old 78s. I also hope that an enterprising record company soon will preserve Frederic Rzewski's remarkable interpretation of the entire cycle, with its predominantly fast tempos and underlying nervous energy. That said, collectors seeking the Songs Without Words will find this release most satisfying. [4/14/2009]

--Jed Distler, ClassicsToday.com
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Works on This Recording

Songs without words, vol 1, Op. 19b by Felix Mendelssohn
Performer:  Daniel Gortler (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1829-1830; Germany 
Songs without words, vol 2, Op. 30 by Felix Mendelssohn
Performer:  Daniel Gortler (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1833-1834; Germany 
Songs without words, vol 3, Op. 38 by Felix Mendelssohn
Performer:  Daniel Gortler (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1835-1837; Germany 
Songs without words, vol 4, Op. 53 by Felix Mendelssohn
Performer:  Daniel Gortler (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1835-1841; Germany 
Songs without words, vol 5, Op. 62 by Felix Mendelssohn
Performer:  Daniel Gortler (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1842-1844; Germany 
Songs without words, vol 6, Op. 67 by Felix Mendelssohn
Performer:  Daniel Gortler (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1841-1845; Germany 
Songs without words, vol 7, Op. 85 by Felix Mendelssohn
Performer:  Daniel Gortler (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1834-1845; Germany 
Songs without words, vol 8, Op. 102 by Felix Mendelssohn
Performer:  Daniel Gortler (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1841-1845; Germany 

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  1 Customer Review )
 The best July 1, 2014 By TED Q. (HENDERSON, NV) See All My Reviews "I recently rediscovered the beauty of this Mendelssohn work and wanted to find an excellent recording. This is it. I listened to several online and by far I am very happy with the interpretation by Daniel Gortier. So very calming. Have to recommend it highly!" Report Abuse
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