A number of outstanding contemporary pianists have produced transcriptions
– one need only think of Pletnev, Hamelin and Katsaris though
there are plenty of others. In their midst stands, or sits, the
figure of Frédéric Meinders, born in 1946, who has been transcribing
for many years inspired by the examples of Rachmaninoff and Godowsky;
the latter in particular. This disc consists of an entire recital
of his transcriptions, of songs close to his heart. The complexity
of the transcription varies from piece to piece; some are straight
transcriptions whilst others are more complex. The effect, to
use a lukewarm word that fails to convey how enjoyable the recital
proves to be, is ‘pleasing’.
The Schubert selection is principally of
well-known works, transcribed with sensitivity and sure judgement.
Heidenröslein offers an especially delightful entrée
whilst Ständchen – for left hand – perhaps conjures up
the spirit, at least, of Godowsky, if not inevitably the pianistic
terror. Meinders invariably manages to elaborate cogently and
warmly even when not excessively - which is for the most part.
The majority of these transcriptions are slow and lyrical as
befits the source material.
Helft mir, ihr
Schwestern from Frauenliebe und –leben is a deft
example of his capacities in this respect. He reserves an honoured
place for Brahms and it’s instructive to hear the voice leading
in his transcription of Sandmännchen or – no less, and
a rarity among the selection of twenty-seven songs – the ardent
and declamatory Meine Liebe is grün.
When he turns to Mahler we find simplicity
and fidelity to the fore. Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen
therefore sounds pliant and luminous rather than wrenching
and though the recital ends energetically with Revelge
from Des Knaben Wunderhorn it’s certainly not typical
of the performances as a whole.
These are sensitively shaped performances
but I think best enjoyed composer by composer. The sound is
fully up to Danacord’s best tradition – very full and warm.