Jan Lisiecki Plays Mendelssohn – Recommended!

Felix Mendelssohn

I am a big fan of Felix Mendelssohn, who I consider to be one of the most underrated composers of the Romantic period.

Mendelssohn’s critics sometimes call the music “too simple”, “just beautiful”, “no depth”. However, I really disagree. There is much more to Mendelssohn than just superficial beauty.

I just love his Lieder ohne Worte (songs without words), take for example the beautiful recordings by Ronald Brautigam or by Javier Perianes, his symphonies, particularly the good old classics of the Scottish and the Italian, or many others of his solo piano works.

However, his piano concertos were underrepresented even in my typical listening. Of course, I have the reference recordings with Andras Schiff and Murray Perahia, but don’t go back to them as often as I should.

Therefore, I was very happy to see that they were released twice in new excellent recordings over the last months, by above mentioned Brautigam (more about this in a later post), and most recently by young Polish/Canadian pianist Jan Lisiecki, who I already had the pleasure to see live.

Jan Lisiecki Plays Mendelssohn (Deutsche Grammophon 2019)

Jan Lisiecki Mendelssohn Orpheus Chamber Orchestra 24/96 Deutsche Grammophon 2019

Lisiecki plays here with the excellent Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, an American orchestra that always plays without a conductor.

Leif Ove Andsnes took a similar approach with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe, some years ago, and I really was suprised how well this can work.

You really don’t miss a conductor here either, the musicians and the soloists really listen to eachother, and are as integrated as they possibly could be.

Both Lisiecki and the Orpheus take relatively swift tempi, and really give the music the emotional pleasure you just need to have when listening to these works. They may not have the depth of a Beethoven or a Brahms, but they are oh so enjoyable!

Futhermore, Lisiecki also attacks some of Mendelssohn’s works for solo piano, notably the Variations sérieuses and the Rondo capriccioso. As a kind of encore we get also one of the Lieder ohne Worte.

These solo works are also very well played, although sometimes I feel Lisiecki’s touch could have been a tad lighter. But this is complaining at a very high level.

Overall, this is a very welcome addition to the Mendelssohn discography and I can thoroughly recommend buying this album!

You can find it here (Qobuz) and here (Prostudiomasters)

My rating: 4 stars

UPDATE March 24: Gramophone agrees, calling this album “delightful”, giving it an “Editor’s Choice” in their April 2019 issue.

UPDATE March 30, 2019: Classica likes this a lot as well giving it 5 stars.

Author: Musicophile

I'm not a professional musician, I don't work in the music industry, I'm just what the name says, somebody who loves music. I've been in love with music for all of my life, took piano lessons for nearly 10 years, and played in several amateur Jazz groups. I go to concerts, both classical and Jazz, quite regularly. And I collect music previously on vinyl and CDs, now on my computer, and am slightly OCD on my music collection. You can reach me at Musicophile1(AT)gmail.com

3 thoughts on “Jan Lisiecki Plays Mendelssohn – Recommended!”

  1. I really love Mendelssohn, one of my favorite composer, who was so deeply appreciated by his pairs during his short life.
    You should give a try to his symphonies by Thomas FEY : splendid !!! His “Scottish” is my favorite, alongside William Steinberg’s one.

    Liked by 1 person

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