I have not heard the others and perhaps should point out that there are no duets on this particular CD. The songs on this disc date mainly from Mendelssohn’s teens and twenties and are an amazing revelation of his genius. The accompanist Eugene Asti, who assembled the songs, claims in his notes that none of them had been recorded before; some of them had remained undiscovered for 150 years.
Both the vocal writing and the accompaniments are reminiscent of Schubert. Remembering that Mendelssohn wrote such masterpieces as the overture to a Midsummer Night’s Dream and his Octet while still in his teens, it should come as no surprise that many of these songs are of high quality and would adorn any Lieder recital. They do not reach the same height as Schubert’s greatest songs, but many of them are equal to Schubert’s Lieder of the second rank. What is particularly interesting is the variety displayed in the composition of the songs. Mendelssohn never repeats himself and the vocal line and the accompaniments are always different and individual.
All the singers are good musicians who meet the demands of the music and enunciate the texts clearly. Unfortunately, their voices are not all on the same level. The European men tend to have the best voices; those of the British women tend to be shrill and thin. Asti’s accompaniments are excellent throughout.