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About the CD MENDELSSOHN Piano Concertos Nos. 1 & 2. Lieder ohne Worte
"This is a CD guaranteed to wake you up, even if you’ve had a bad night’s sleep or are just feeling listless on a Monday. I can’t say that Chamorel’s and Gendre’s way with the Mendelssohn Concertos are authentic in any way—in fact, I would say they are not, for their brisk, no-nonsense, anti-lingering style sounds very modern in concept—but by golly, they keep things moving and are never dull. This is due as much to the conductor as the pianist; they work hand-in-hand to provide crisp, bright readings of these concertos. If you take into account, however, the Mendelssohn was often (and still is, occasionally) referred to as “the new Mozart,” these performances of the concertos are in the manner of many historically-informed readings of Mozart. I rush to add that neither Chamorel nor Gendre are mechanical in their approach. On the contrary, they engage in some splendid accents and dynamics. To use an old metaphor, they sound as if they have just discovered fire. The second-movement Andante to the first concerto is delicately chiseled as if from a block of crystal, and the third movement alternately dances and explodes under Chamorel’s happy fingers.
Chamorel, who wrote his own liner notes, says that “The Concerto No. 2…is structured in a surprisingly similar fashion to that of op. 25,” although noting that the composer “engages completely differently with it.” I found it a more reflective work, even in the first movement, where despite the quick tempo (“Allegro appassionato”) it seems moodier, more a combination of outward ebullience and reflection, and there are more interesting harmonic changes. For all his straight-ahead enthusiasm, the pianist does not ignore the requisite mood here, nor does he barrel through the interesting harmony. Rather, he balances poise and reflection nicely with his “springy” rhythm and brilliant but not ostentatious technique.
I must also say that I found Chamorel’s way with the sometimes problematic Songs Without Words quite persuasive. So many (perhaps too many) pianists play them in a lingering fashion, gooping up and romanticizing their simply structured melodies, that one is often led astray from their construction by this over-flowery approach. I found them far more interesting and rewarding played in this no-nonsense style. As one might expect, his brisk, taut reading of the Variations Serieuses also brings out the structure of the work with alacrity. Chamorel is that kind of pianist, like young Anne-Marie McDermott or young André-Michel Schub, who brings intensity to the table with every piece yet does not overlook fine detail when called for. I hope he never loses this fire." Lynn René Bayley
"...unassuming, note-perfect and supremely sensitive."
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