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Mendelssohn: Songs Without Words.

Mendelssohn: Songs Without Words (selection), arranged for violin and piano by Friedrich Hermann. Alex Strauss, violin; Cord Garben, piano. Naxos 8.570213.

Even if you don't think you've ever heard any of Mendelssohn's piano works called Songs Without Words, the pieces in which he wrote down some musical ideas that he said could not be verbalized, you will undoubtedly still recognize a few of them from this selection. The first one, especially, the Allegretto grazioso, Op. 62, No. 6, better known as "Spring Song," will put a smile on your face, because you'll know it from a multitude of Warner Bros. and Disney cartoons.

What we have here is not just another collection of the piano compositions but the arrangements that Friedrich Hermann (1828-1907) made of them for violin and piano. Not that the piano doesn't work well alone, but the duets provide an extra measure of haunting pleasure in the pieces. Strauss and Garben mix up the selections well enough to keep one interested, too, a most enjoyable experience.

Moreover, Naxos have captured the two performers admirably in an acoustic that is just close enough to be vivid, yet distant enough to impart a welcome bloom. Although the twenty-two selections on the disc have a total playing time of well over an hour, they are all so brief and so intimate, the time seems shorter. It's a sweet set.
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Author:Puccio, John
Publication:Sensible Sound
Article Type:Sound recording review
Date:Apr 1, 2008
Words:230
Previous Article:Mahler: Symphony No. 9; Richard Strauss: Metamorphosen; Death and Transfiguration.
Next Article:Mendelssohn: Violin Concerto in E minor; Bruch: Romance in F for viola and orchestra; Violin Concerto No. 1.
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