Aureole etc.

Golden Age singers

Nimbus on-line

Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

Lieder ohne Worte (Songs without words) 1-24 (1829-45)
E major Op.19 No. 1
A minor Op.19 No.2
A major Op.19 No.3 Jägerlied
A major Op.19 No.4
F sharp minor Op.19.No.5
G minor Op.19 No.6 Venetian Gondola Song
E flat major Op 30.No.1
B flat minor Op.30 No.2
E major Op.30 No.3
B minor Op.30 No.4
D major Op.30 No.5
F sharp minor Op.30 No.6 Venetian Gondola Song
E flat major Op.38 No.1
C minor Op.38 No.2
E major Op.38 No.3
A major Op.38 No.4
A minor Op.38 No.5
A flat major Op.38 No.6 Duetto
A flat major Op.53 No.1
E flat major Op.53 No.2
G minor Op.53 No.3
F major Op.53 No.4
A minor Op.53 No.5 Volkslied
A major Op.53 No.6
Frank van de Laar (Piano)
Recorded between December 1999 and January 2000 in the Remonstrantse Gemeente, Deventer, Netherlands DDD


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Seven collections of Songs without words, comprising 48 pieces, were published over sixteen years during Mendelssohn’s lifetime; but one can have too much of a good thing, as Mendelssohn himself implied when, in 1845 and despite the pleas of an admiring public, he decided not to write any more. Their popularity was immense in Victorian times, but declined after the ‘parlour piano’ ceased to be the mainstay of domestic music making. Not that many of them could be called beginners’ pieces: Mendelssohn was too much of a craftsman to compose second rate music. Nevertheless, the prospect of listening to 24 in succession might not raise much enthusiasm today were not van de Laar’s performance as persuasive as the composer’s fluent invention. There is no forced sentimentality, and several bear comparison with Schumann’s, and even Brahms’s, shorter piano pieces.

The ‘songs’ are roughly in the same mould: a melody or recurring motif accompanied by chords and arpeggios woven around one or two thematic ideas evoking pleasant scenes or tender emotions, though more intense and dramatic feelings are expressed in some of them. And yes, I did listen to all 24 at one sitting, very much enjoyed it and regretted the absence of some personal favourites. The ‘song with accompaniment’ scheme can present ticklish problems to amateur pianists but, needless to say, this performance shows how effective it can be in the hands of a first class player.

As with other recent issues on this label there is no insert booklet, a regrettable omission.

Roy Brewer

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