Songs Without Words

Murray Perahia

  • Release 1999

The heart of this collection is 15 of Mendelssohn’s Songs without Words, those eternally lovely miniatures, well selected and played by Perahia with the lyrical sense the music needs. Too bad he didn’t record them all. The disc opens with four of Busoni’s Bach transcriptions, all organ chorale preludes based on sung hymns (hence the connection and the title). These, too, are well done, very clear and fleet and with impressive agility in “Nun freut euch, lieben Christen g’mein.” The conclusion is four of Liszt’s brilliant arrangements of Schubert songs, again played with wonderful lyricism and some high drama that indicates Perahia knows the original songs and their texts very well. Despite the title, the album isn’t totally congruent, but everything on it is well worth hearing. –Leslie Gerber