Mendelssohn - piano pieces

Discuss the piano literature and how to teach and learn it

Postby Beckywy » Thu Jun 30, 2005 8:41 pm

When performing Mendelssohn - specifically the pieces "Song without words" - since he was more classically inclined, would you perform the piece more classically, or are romantic analysis allowed? I'm not sure if we should be strict with the rhythmic pulse of the pieces, or allow for as much rubato as we would with Chopin. The titles tell us of the romantic nature of them, but he is known to be conservative.

Should it mean we should play it with as much dynamic expression, but be rhythmically strict? or, play as freely as we would with Chopin?
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Postby Chris X » Mon Jul 04, 2005 1:36 am

Hi Becky.

That is a good question, but hopefully I can be of some help.

I just read in some of my piano pedagogy class notes, as well as a music history text book, that Felix Mendelssohn was generally a classical composer with romantic tendencies. He lived practically during the exact same time as Chopin, and technically he is considered a romantic composer. Due to the fact that he conformed to the restraints of classicism, you can most likely use rubato, but not as much as you would if you were playing Chopin.

In regards to playing the Songs Without Words, I am working on a couple of them myself. Hopefully, my interpretation can offer some suggestions.

I am playing:

Op. 19, no. 3, Jagerslied "Hunting Song"

I try to play this piece fast. I do not go faster than comfortable, but I try to go fast enough to portray the effect of this piece. Personally, this piece reminds me of horseback riding, and the happiness I have seen from people that enjoy horseback riding. If you listen to a recording closely, you will hear chase scenes, scenes of conflict, and a positive finale.

Op. 38, no. 6, Duetto

Based on the title and my experience with the piece, I view this piece as a duet between two melody lines, with inner voices. Both melody lines tend to repeat each other, so there are many call and response duties for the performer. I personally like to view this piece as an interplay between two similar but seperate characters. You can view this piece as a dance between a husband and wife, two dancers or acrobats, the limits are endless. You can view the inner voices as friends, fellow dancers, etc. As a note, the inner voices should be softer than the two contrasting melodic lines.

Hopefully this helps.

Edited By Chris X on 1120505166
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Postby pianogal » Mon Dec 31, 2007 3:40 pm

Great question! I'm having some doubt on Beethoven Sonata op. 110 also. Is it in Classical period or Romantic?

And speaking of Mendelssohn or any classic composers, which pieces would you recommand according to the best musicality and emotions?
(I'm very into emotional pieces)
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Postby Tranquillo » Tue Jan 01, 2008 5:34 am

pianogal wrote:Great question! I'm having some doubt on Beethoven Sonata op. 110 also. Is it in Classical period or Romantic?

It depends. ... Really, (time wise) Beethoven was a classical composer ... however stylistically he did put a turning point to music. Some of his works are argued to sound more 'romantic'.
He rebeled against the conformist strict classical rules to bring about a new type of music. Actually musicologists call him the last Classicist ... so anybody after him needs to compose a whole new way.
I guess I didn't answer the question ... I think Chris pretty much answered it ... well, I guess its like Rachmaninov he was born well into the 20th century but regarded as a Romantic composer.
Its probably the same thing here ... only Mendelssohn is a crossover classical/romantic composer.
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