Considered one of the greatest pianists of our time, British composer Peter Donohoe delivers here an impressive first volume centered on Felix Mendelssohn’s Romances without Words (Lieder ohne Worte). Personal inventions of this prodigious composer of nineteenth-century musical life, these romances pave the way for the miniatures for piano, characterized by their lyrical vocal lines and the variety of their aesthetics. Prior to the introduction, Donohoe offers a consistent presentation of the breadth of Mendelssohn’s lyrical style and virtuosic writing, with the Rondo Cappricioso, a famous piece by the composer – and the Three Fantasies or Caprices.
From the very first notes, one is struck by the strength of Donohoe’s touch, which is both lively and brilliant, and which brings out the dynamics of the works and their subtleties with sensitivity and consistency. In fact, and with good reason, the Scherzo of the Three Fantasies, which foreshadows the Fairy March of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, with its two airy, clarion-like themes, is a particularly striking moment. Carried by this energy, the pages of the romances follow one another, revealing to our ears different soundscapes that reveal their varied plots and characters. From melancholy to depth to gaiety and elation, Peter Donohoe’s noble and evocative playing captivates and leaves us in anticipation of seeing the story of these romances continue in a future volume.