These songs are so much better without words

These songs are so much better without words


norman lebrecht

September 29, 2015

From my Album of the Week on

Given the music industry’s preoccupation with complete sets, it’s remarkable how few recordings exist of the eight books of Songs Without Words for piano by the great early-Romantic composer Felix Mendelssohn. Mendelssohn seems to have dashed the Songs off in spare moments between 1829 and 1845, sending them to be published six at a time. But there’s nothing random about the series.

The total number of songs – 48 – is a homage to JS Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier and the changes of key from one to the next suggests that, across the short span of his adult life (he died in 1847, aged 38), Mendelssohn conceived the set as a complete cycle. Which makes it all the more surprising that famous pianists have not hammered at label doors demanding to record the set.

Read the full review here.

Félix Mendelssohn - Bartholdy