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Felix MENDELSSOHN (1809-1847)
Piano Works: Three Caprices, Op. 33 (1833-35) [25'13]. Fantasies, Op. 16 (1829) [7'54] - No. 2 in E minor, Scherzo; No. 3 in E, Andante. Variations in E flat, Op. 82 (1847) [8'29]. Piano Sonata in G minor, Op. 105 (1821) [18'53]
Pierre Laconte (piano).
Rec Eglise Notre-Dame du Liban, Paris in 1981.
PAVANE ADW7243 [61'28]
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Pierre Laconte's eminently approachable Mendelssohn disc represents a sensitive reaction to the free-flow of this composer's ever-fertile imagination. It would appear that Laconte has an affinity for the fleeting lightness of Mendelssohn's quixotic thought (by the same token, it is difficult to imagine him in heavier Austro-Germanic repertoire).

If Laconte has one basic fault, it is a propensity to under-pedal. Clarity of texture and avoidance of washes of sound are all very well (and sometimes completely appropriate: try the third Caprice, Op. 33 No. 3 ), but Mendelssohn is explicitly not a one-sided composer.

The three Caprices of 1833-35 which open the disc exemplify much of Leconte's strengths and weaknesses. When Leconte livens up in the middle section of Op. 33 No. 2, he alerts the listener to the possibilities his playing has to offer. If the Scherzo in E minor, Op. 16 No. 2, with its evocations of 'A Midsummer Night's Dream' would have been more appealing if played straighter and lighter, full marks go to Leconte for including the Andante and Variations, Op. 82 instead of the more famous 'Variations sérieuses', Op. 54. Op. 82 is a deftly composed set which repays repeated listening: interestingly enough also, they bring out the best in Leconte.

Ending the recital with the G minor Sonata, Op. 105 was a wise move. This is a piece which also deserves more frequent airing. That said, despite a charming first movement , Leconte does not quite accord Op. 105 the stature it deserves: the central Andante meanders rather, and scales could sparkle more in the finale.

All in all, this is a carefully-prepared recital and remains an enjoyable way to spend an hour.
Colin Clarke

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3 Caprices op. 33
no. 1 Adagio and Presto in A Minor
no. 2 Allegro grazioso in E Major
no. 3 Adagio and Pesto con fuoco in B flat Minor

Andante op. 16 no. 3 in E Major

Scherzo op. 16 no. 2 in E Minor

Andante and variations op. 82 in E flat Major

Sonata op. 105 in G Minor

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