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Learning by Example - Volume 4
Mordecai Shehori (piano)
rec. 2016
CEMBAL D’AMOUR CD184 [70:33]

This is the fourth in Mordecai Shehori’s long-running ‘Learning by Example’ series, the rubric of which runs ‘22 works by 17 composers that pianists young and older will love to study and play’. That’s quite a wide constituency but fortunately some clear-sighted programming has gone on to ensure that we move broadly – but certainly not strictly - chronologically through the disc and that there are attractive consonances or juxtapositions along the way. It might have been nice to have read something of the pianist’s own thoughts about these matters, but the booklet is wholly given over to a generic biography and details of Cembal d’amour’s many other discs, a large number of which you will find reviewed on MWI.

Shehori brings out unexpected tinges of melancholy in Dussek’s Allegro in G major and unveils his own most attractive transcription of the Gypsy Rondo from Haydn’s Piano Trio in G major Hob. XV/25. There’s a brief detour to a Beethoven attribution, the so-called Gertrude’s Dream Waltz, but some authentic rage over a lost penny, which is played with deft characterisation. He takes a lingering approach to Träumerei but plays Grieg’s Papillon with deft grace. His transcription, with variants, of Waldteufel’s The Skaters ensures over six minutes of fresh and jaunty musicianship and no little virtuosity into the bargain.
The French component of the programme is represented by a warm voiced reading of Massenet’s evergreen Melodie and an attractive reading of Fauré’s Romance sans paroles, Op.17 No.2. Of greater breadth is the quartet of Debussy pieces in which one can hear an attractively voiced Reverie and both the Arabesques; the second, in particular, is most persuasively and winningly done. To programme Albéniz and Granados may seem conventional enough but for the newcomer – to follow the disc’s rubric – this offers a useful focus and the brace is played with evocative colour. Meanwhile Scriabin’s Op.45 No.1 offers a suggestively reflective morceau that is smashed apart by Kabalevsky’s Having Fun, from his Op.27. To finish there is Joplin’s The Cascades – a slight mistake, I think: Shehori is no Dick Hyman as a Ragtime player.

That apart, this is an attractive sequence of sweetmeats, full of dance verve and sentiment. It’s only really rather let down by the studio acoustic, which is too flat and lacks ambience.

Jonathan Woolf

Johann Ladislas DUSSEK (1760-1812)
Allegro in G Major [1:34]
Anton DIABELLI (1781-1858)
Bagatelle in C Major [0:59]
Josef HAYDN (1732-1809)
Piano Trio “Gypsy” Rondo, Hob. XV/25 transcr. Shehori [3:41]
Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1778-1828)
Gertrude’s Dream Waltz attrib. [2:06]
“Rage Over a Lost Penny,” Op. 129 [7:05]
Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856)
Kinderszenen: Träumerei, Op. 15, No. 7 [3:11]
The Prophet Bird [2:55]
Edvard GRIEG (1843-1907)
Lyric Pieces: Papillon, Op.12 [1:51]
Emil WALDTEUFEL (1837-1915)
The Skaters Waltz transcr. and variants Shehori [6:29]
John FIELD (1782-1837)
Nocturne in B-flat Major [3:12]
Gabriel FAURÉ (1845-1924)
Romance sans Paroles, Op.17 No.2 [3:08]
Jules MASSENET (1842-1912)
Melodie, Op.10 No.5 [2:05]
Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918)
Suite Bergamasque: Clair de Lune [4:26]
Deux Arabesques, No.1 in E major [4:08]: No.2 in G major [3:19]
Reverie [4:33]
Anton RUBINSTEIN (1829-1894)
Romance in E-flat Major, Op.44 [2:58]
Isaac ALBÉNIZ (1860-1909)
Malaguena [3:46]
Enrique GRANADOS (1867-1926)
Spanish Dance, Op.5 No.5 [3:35]
Alexander SCRIABIN (1871-1915)
Album Leaf, Op.45 No.1 [1:43]
Dmitri KABALEVSKY (1904-1987)
Having Fun, Op.27 [0:42]
Scott JOPLIN (1868-1917)
The Cascades [2:57]

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