on July 14, 2007
Being surprised that nobody to date yet has contributed comments on Amazon's Canadian and British WWW sites about this disc of previously unrecorded piano works by Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, this listener makes a few comments to supplement those of one (so far) other contributor to Amazon's U.S. site, without being elaborate about doing so, also to encourage those who love Mendelssohn's always lovely music to obtain this disc. For those who wish to have sympathetic commentary on this important CD release, apart from the notes in the booklet that comes with the CD, there is a review-essay of it and another disc of Mendelssohn's piano music as Prosseda recorded that one, too, titled "Roberto Prosseda: Rediscovering Mendelssohn", by Colin Clarke, often quoting Prosseda, who obviously is a most determined champion of Mendelssohn's music, in "Fanfare", vol. 30, no. 3 (Jan./Feb. 2007), p. 56-58. These works all too often have been omitted in putatively "complete" editions of the composer's piano music, which is why it has taken so long for them to appear on a recording, even LP or CD sets setting out to embrace all of Mendelssohn's solo piano music.
The works, for the most part, are not quite top-drawer Mendelssohn, but this composer's standard was high, indeed, so musch so that all of his music is worth hearing, these pieces or any others. The only work that was disappointing in its inconsistency is the lengthy Fantasia in the keys of C minor and D major of 1823, but, after all, Mendelssohn was only fourteen years old when he composed this tripartite piece! The piano writing in the lyric portions sounds more like weak Chopin (whose music of this sort, very little of which was at all tepid, dates, of course, from somewhat later years) than it sounds like Mendelssohn at his more typical and best; there is what sounds like an heavy influence, in these plaintively melodious sections, from "bel canto" Italian opera, but, unlike Chopin a bit later integrating Vincenzo Bellini's kind of elegiac lyricism in his own Polish-French style, the texture and pianistic elaboration of Mendelssohn's handling of such Italianate thematic material is too plain to convey the effect that equally fine melodic writing would have had at Chopin's hand later, but when the young Mendelssohn romps and gambols in parts of the Fantasy at faster tempi, the results are utterlyly delightful. The other works included on this disc of rarities are briefer and more surely "Mendelssohnian" in style and treatment, therefore endearingly beautiful. The shorter the pieces, it seems, the more times it pays re-hearing such perfect gems.
Roberto Prosseda obviously put a lot of work into this disc and his playing does justice to the music, with all the technic and limpidly appealing tone for which one could wish. However, at times Prosseda does seem to hold back, to rein in the music at times when a more freewheelingly and grandly vivid range of expression better would realise the sheer potential to excite the listener. One yearns to hear the equally sensitive but, at "big" moments, more "no holds barred" approach of a young lion of the keyboard like Yevgeny Sudbin launching into this music's more grandiose moments without such unwanted restraint as Prosseda's. However, this is a minor quibble and only applies to this music intermittently. Prosseda is a fine artist, and one is grateful that a pianist of his calibre and devotion to the cause of Mendelssohn's music turned to this unjustly neglected music to undertake his project of recording it.
on February 19, 2007
This is one of the finest piano recordings to come out in recent years. The recording and piano quality, alone, is worth the price of the recording. It is one of those piano recordings in which the piano sound just floats beautifully upon a deep background of crystal clear silence.
Then there is the playing. Roberto Prosseda offers us an unassuming and deceptively simple virtuosity in his rendering of these rarely played (and never before recorded) works of Mendelssohn, shaping them all into the gems that they really are. His rhythm and tempo changes are solid and spot on, never rushing, never losing momentum, and his touch is always full of perfectly balanced voicings and subtle colorations that simply cannot be described. Perhaps it is fortunate that he plays three selections from "A Midsummer Night's Dream," as one can appreciate how his piano coloration perfectly reminds one of the original orchestration.
I don't know if this recording was ever nominated for a Grammy, but in today's world of neglected quality, I would not be surprised if it were not. And if not, it should have been, as the playing of Mr. Prosseda is as much of a discovery as the Mendelssohn gems themselves.