Klaus Mertens / Gitti Pirner / Kent Nagano

Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy: Vergessene Lieder

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Felix Mendelssohn roosted near the top of the composer pantheon in the nineteenth century but suffered a bit of demotion in the early and middle twentieth, just as systematic musicology was beginning to do its thing. As a result, his music was never subjected to very rigorous bibliographic control, and quite a bit of it has never been recorded. These "vergessene Lieder" (forgotten songs) were first published in a complete edition that appeared in the early 2000s; prior to that they were known only to specialists. There's no good reason for that other than the randomness of history; there's nothing wrong with them, and in fact they might even further the continuing rehabilitation of Mendelssohn as a song composer. Sample the Reiterlied (track 11), which isn't Schubert's Erlkönig but which is an expertly shaped take on the horseback idea. Many of the pieces are seemingly simple love songs that have beautifully spun-out melodies that take them out of the realm of the ordinary, and vocal students should get to know them; they're the kind of songs that show off voices at their best. An interesting feature is that several of the songs have unidentified texts that may have been written by Mendelssohn himself. Baritone Klaus Mertens, mostly a Bach specialist hitherto, has a very fine light touch that brings out the melodic gifts in these songs. A nice find from the small German label Farao Classics, with notes and texts in German and English.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 1:45
2 3:05
3 4:40
4 1:56
5 3:15
6 4:54
7 1:02
8 1:22
9 2:38
10 4:17
11 3:03
12 1:34
13 3:07
14 3:15
15 2:23
16 2:27
17 2:21
18 2:46
19 2:30
20 3:38
21 2:41
22 1:49
23 2:31
blue highlight denotes track pick