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Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

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Mordecai Shehori - Pianist
Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)

Prelude in B minor arr. Alexander SILOTI
Georg Frideric HANDEL (1685-1750)

Chaconne in G major G229
Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)

Sonata in D minor Op. 31 No. 2 The Tempest
Frédéric CHOPIN (1810-1849)

Barcarolle in F sharp major Op. 60
Polonaise in F sharp minor Op. 44
Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828)

Ständchen arr. Franz LISZT
Der Atlas arr. Franz LISZT
Auf dem Wasser zu singen arr. Franz LISZT
Franz LISZT (1811-1886)

A Legend; Saint Francis of Paola walking on the Waves
Mordecai Shehori (piano)
Recorded New York, 1994
CEMBAL D’AMOUR CD 101 [77.09]




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Mordecai Shehori, whose praises I have sung on this site before, both as executant and disseminator of discs, recorded this album back in 1994. It conforms to the repertoire of a Romantic par excellence. It makes for a pleasing recital, both in its scope (intellectual, historical, technical) and in its sensitive and bravura musicianship. This in turn demonstrates Shehori’s acute ear for telling and revealing juxtaposition. Indeed one is aware at all times of his consistently superior talents in this direction, of a probing mind and cast iron technique working in synchronous harmony.

His Romantic affiliations are immediately nailed to the mast in the first two selections, the hyphenated Bach-Siloti and the Handel Chaconne. The delicate tracery of the former, its liquidity and Old School pliancy, are marvellous to hear. Shehori is unashamed, quite rightly, of the deeply expressive and pedalled halo he conjures from the Steinway once belonging to Josef Hofmann. He succeeds triumphantly in conveying its refashioned intimacies. The Handel, similarly, is something of a triumph. The immaculately humorous voicings, the clarity, the non-staccato left hand, the chordal weight, his unwillingness simply to rush and the perfectly developed internally galvanic rhythm are all notable features of this performance. The D minor Sonata (The Tempest) is the centre point of the recital. It’s a work well suited to Shehori’s volatile but controlled sensitivity. He is generous with the pedal in his opening statements, the contrastive sections brittle without hardening, and the middle voices perfectly audible (but not over-promoted). His is not the way of Schnabel’s granitic grandeur or of, say, Kempff’s sometimes discursive accenting. Shehori is cooler but deeply engaged. He brings considerable introspective depth to the first movement at a relatively slow tempo, quite without ostentation. The Adagio is again marshalled with no little understanding. There is clarity once more and I sense he seeks at all times to cohere the movement, to draw together its quixotic character rather than to fracture it still further. To this extent he is the architect-poet. Those who object to or dislike the performance will point to what they take to be a certain disengagement but I prefer to see Shehori as that rara avis, the intellectual-romantic. That he can be protean in his colouristic power can easily be demonstrated by the Allegretto. There is poetry and nuance here. He just chooses to unleash them at the most apposite time.

His Chopin is, as one would expect, both expressive and strong. His tonal cultivation in the Barcarolle is delightful where once more he refuses to rush for merely superficial effect. Dynamic contrasts are observed with care, his trills are effortless, the rise and fall of the line conveying genuine tension and not a little elegance too. I quite liked his tempo retardation at 6.39 – humorous – and he sweeps to a genuinely musical conclusion. The Schubert-Liszt transcriptions are made for Shehori, whether delicate in Ständchen or leonine and dramatic in Der Atlas. And in the final piece, Liszt’s own A Legend; Saint Francis of Paola walking on the Waves he is appositely dashing and daring with a coda of considerable beauty.

A splendid recital then in every way and one that I think must reflect Shehori’s concert recitals. If they are as good as this disc New York concertgoers are spoiled for choice.

Jonathan Woolf



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