Felix Mendelssohn

Variations sérieuses, for piano in D minor, Op. 54

    Description by James Reel

    Mendelssohn wrote three sets of piano variations in 1841, but this was the only group published during his lifetime; it is regarded as the finest of the three, and, indeed, it remains Mendelssohn's most-often performed substantial piano work. The solemn theme, despite a few anachronistic harmonic excursions, evokes Baroque keyboard music, and reminds us of Mendelssohn's admiration of J.S. Bach. There follow 17 miniature variations packed into little more than ten minutes. What they lack in length they make up for in their wide range. The first evokes a solemn Bach harpsichord Invention. After that, the texture becomes slightly denser, and by the third variation Mendelssohn summons an urgency almost reminiscent of Beethoven. What follows is a miniscule scherzo, which leads to a quick chordal treatment. Later variations hold a Brahmsian power or are fleet and virtuosic or launch a sober little canon or break into song. Throughout, the mood is exactly as advertised: serious, without a trace of the elfin spirit that marks many of Mendelssohn's most popular works. The piece culminates in a short series of resounding, highly dramatic variations that abruptly give way to a few quiet concluding chords, returning in the final seconds to the mood of the opening bars.

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2019 Deutsche Grammophon 4836471
    2018 Warner Classics
    2018 Warner Classics 0190295704940
    2018 Orchid Classics ORC 100088
    2017 Quartz QTZ 2127
    2017 CAvi-music AVI 8553360
    2017 Gateway Music DB 2017
    2017 Erato WPCS-13668
    2017 Erato 559207
    2017 Erato 0190295888503
    2016 MSR Classics MS 1590
    2015 Centaur Records CRC 3354
    2015 Solo Musica SM 223
    2014 MDG MDGSC 9061853
    2014 Querstand QUE 1205
    2014 Harmonia Mundi HMC 902195
    2014 Fondamenta FON 1401012
    2013 Oehms Classics OC 430
    2013 Entertainment Group 13706
    2013 Doremi Records DHR 6010
    2013 Fuga Libera FGL 598
    2012 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099970490
    2012 MDG / Zebralution
    2012 Doron Music 5034
    2012 CPO CPO 7775192
    2012 Sony Classical 88691912562
    2012 ZYX Music CLA 101322
    2011 Roméo Records / Romeo Records 7280
    2011 Amon Ra CDSAR 38
    2011 Aliud Records ACDHJ 0322
    2011 Oehms Classics OC775
    2010 Brilliant Classics 93975
    2010 Brilliant Classics 94084
    2010 Vox 5077
    2010 Oehms Classics 774
    2009 Sony Classical / Sony Classical UK 88697431592
    2009 PentaTone Classics 5186152
    2009 DOREMI / Doremi Records 7889
    2009 Ars Produktion 38046
    2009 Brilliant Classics 93912
    2009 Denon Records
    2009 Sony Music Entertainment 88697420722
    2009 Berlin Classics 0016372
    2009 Hyperion 67686
    2009 Sony Music Distribution 88697575002
    2008 MDG 9121489
    2008 Naïve 5131
    2008 Antes Edition / Zebralution
    2008 Profil - Edition Günter Hänssler 8027
    2008 Avi 553067
    2007 Philips 000867602
    2007 APR (Appian) 5573
    2007 Sabintu 1214
    2006 Berlin Classics 0185522
    2006 Arte Nova 768080
    2005 Cascavelle 3010
    2005 APR (Appian) 5595
    2004 EMI Classics 585222
    2003 Aura Classics 0420
    2003 Decca 000018002
    2002 Living Stage 35150
    2002 Urania 4205
    2002 Andante 2980
    2001 Classica d'Oro 3009
    2001 Decca 468600
    2001 Decca 4686002
    2001 RCA 902668959
    2001 Nimbus 1739
    2001 EMI Music Distribution 74019
    2000 Intim Musik 066
    2000 Bayer Records 100303
    1999 CBC Records MVCD1122
    1999 Philips 456733
    1999 Philips 462232
    1999 Philips 454987
    1999 EMI Music Distribution 72821
    1999 Skylark Music 9201
    1998 Genesis Records 114
    1998 Equity Music Group 1195
    1998 Philips 456922
    1997 Biddulph Recordings LHW002
    1997 Nimbus 1772
    1997 Protone Records 2206
    1996 BIS 77
    1996 Berlin Classics 0092992
    1996 Naxos 550940
    1995 Vox 3036
    1995 Gallo 707
    1995 Nimbus 7704
    1995 Amon Ra 38
    1995 Nimbus 5340
    1995 VAI Audio 1028
    1994 Philips 442302
    1991 RCA 60451
    1987 Sony Classical 42401
    1985 CBS Records 37838
    Labor Records
    Lyra 1002
    Fidelio 8840
    As Disc 343
    Protone Records 1105
    Samsung Classics 5
    Protone Records 1112
    Nimbus 5072
    Berlin Classics 0120022
    Denon Records 18039
    Ades 20296
    Canal Grande 9106
    SKREF 008
    Ermitage 415
    Duo Records (Meridian) 89001
    Historical Performers 34
    The Piano Library 257