Fumiko Shiraga

Mendelssohn: Piano Concertos Op. 25 & Op. 40; Six Songs Without Words

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There are too few recordings of Mendelssohn's piano concertos, but even so, the world does not need a recording of chamber arrangements of the works. Pianist Fumiko Shiraga and the Nathan Quartett with bassist Bernd Konzett make the best case possible for these arrangements by conductor and producer Cord Garben, but the works sound infinitely better scored for full orchestra and Garben's arrangements add nothing to what we know of them. Although the performances are excellent in their way -- Shiraga has a sparkling technique and a smoothly refined tone and the Nathan Quartett and Konzett back her with skill and soul -- they cannot make more of the arrangements than is there, and the results, while impressive as performances, are ultimately unimpressive as music. Garben's arrangements of six of Mendelssohn's Songs Without Words for piano trio, on the other hand, are much more effective and are played beautifully. The sound is clear, but shallow.

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