Songs Without Words, but with Abundant Brilliance
The audience got to know and appreciate Amir Katz as a poetic pianist with virtuosic technique. His evening with Mendelssohn’s Songs without Words of last year is still a vibrant memory. This year for the 200th birthday of the composer, Amir Katz has now recorded all 48 Songs without Words on a double CD with Live Classics. An opus magnum, documenting as a cycle the little character pieces most often performed as encores. The Songs without Words were published in eight collections with eight opus numbers of six works apiece. Mendelssohn composed them between age 20 and 36. Katz makes the development from one group of works to the next beautifully clear. With a clear touch but quite a bit of romantic depth, he plays Opus 19, letting the miniatures flash and glisten while still allowing for a bit of ‘Sturm und Drang’ lightning. Katz’s Lieder journey through Mendelssohn’s life becomes ever more romantic, more dense, more emotional, as he also richly varies the tempi. Touching upon the Chopinesque salon and the Lisztian cockiness in the later works, he showcases puckish dances on the keys and displays Mendelssohn’s spiritual kinship to Schumann, having arrived in a completely different, highly romantic world of sound at the conclusion in Opus 102, which Mendelssohn completed two years before his death. Katz’s great gift in singing melodies on the piano, the sonorous fantasy with which he veils the music in shimmering colors, his technical brilliance, and his depth of feeling make him an ideal interpreter for these appealing little works.