Recorded on 06/16/2010, uploaded on 01/16/2011
Musician's or Publisher's Notes
In addition to the collection of Songs without Words for piano published in eight books, Mendelssohn also composed a short piece for cello and piano in 1843 published posthumously as opus 109 with the same title. The title “Song without Words” was of apparently of Mendelssohn’s own invention which he used to describe his lyrical and melody-driven short compositions for piano. It is an appropriate title for this particular piece as it shares the lyrical qualities and is entirely dominated by the melodious cello line.
After a one bar introduction in which the pattern of the tranquil piano accompaniment is established, the cello gives forth a glowing D major melody with a gentle ebb and flow as it falls through the outline of the tonic triad only to rise back up again. The melody encompasses two strains, each repeated—the first altered on its repetition to close the antecedent section of the melody in the key of F sharp minor. Following the close of the melody, the middle section changes to the key of the tonic minor and introduces a new melody marked agitato. This melody, however, is not entirely new as it also outlines the notes of the triad like its predecessor, though in this case it rises from the dominant to the third instead of falling. The piano accompaniment also becomes more restless. The firm foundation of the meter is retained though occasionally embellished by a dactylic, fanfare-like motif; furthermore, the right hand fills in the harmonies with sweeping arpeggios in sextuplet rhythm. The middle section passes through multiple keys, increasing the tension of the music until finally the cello seems to break free of the struggle and comes to a rest on a high A under which the piano begins a rather long trek from D minor to D major. An altered and condensed restatement of the D major section rounds out the ternary design of the piece. A coda, at first recalling the struggles of the middle section then later presenting its melody in the tonic major key, brings about a quiet and serene close. Joseph DuBose
Courtesy of International Music Foundation.
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