With the title of "Songs Without Words"Mendelsohn composed a variety of miniature pieces for the piano composed by him around twenty years (1829-1845) in eight volumes. This particular song is from the 5th Book of songs without words, he finished the book in 1842.
This book of Songs Without Words composed by Mendelsohn marked the invisible divisor line between late Classism and early romanticism because this type of composition (short pieces) started in the suites, dances, marches and others free compositions under the names of fantasies, risercari, toccatas and gaining fame with the Well Tempered Clavier composed by J.S. Bach. Little by little after Bach the short pieces became suites and began to appear the cyclical form. But here in the romanticism the short pieces most of them for the piano composed by Mendelsohn, Chopin (mazurkas, preludes, nocturnes, etc.) inspired the composer so much that they started composing them in a new way with a national character such as Chopin’s Mazurkas or Liszt Hungarian rhapsodies. Mendelsohn was influenced for such as boom of exploitation to the short pieces. This specific piece that I choose recreate the environment of a song with lots of lyricism and sentimentalism.
Formally the piece is in ternary form A (a a’) B (b a) A’ (a c c’) coda. Within the section A there is a half cadence in measure 4, a imperfect authentic cadence in measure 8 and a perfect authentic cadence in measure 10 to give pass to the section B in which are the deceptive authentic cadence in measure 14th, a half cadence in measure 16th and a deceptive cadence at measure 20. In the A prime section there is a half cadence in measure 26 and then a deceptive cadence at measure 30 and a couple of perfect authentic cadences both in the coda section (35 the first one and in measure 41 the second one.
The whole piece is in G major. The first cadence that appears in the piece is a half cadence in the 4th measure. The first modulation appears in the measure 7-8 to the B minor key the specific chords are: V42-i6 (imperfect authentic cadence), in the 9-10 measures however there is a perfect authentic cadence with V7-I which is typical characteristic of Mendelsohn songs without words. Later on in the bar 17th the theme of piece comes back in C major. In the measure 22 again appear the main theme now in G major the original key. Further it is set a deceptive cadence (m 29-30). The coda section begins in measure 35 till the end.
The op 19b no. 1 is completely comparable with this song without words op 69 no. 1. Firstly because it denotes simplicity. Analytically in the beginning there is a short introduction of two measures long. It can be divided in three parts/periods. The first one begins after the short introduction in measure 3 until measure 15th, inside this part we can see the two long phrases, they almost have the same thematic material because they begin with the same pattern but then after their second measures both go different directions. The first phrase is shorter than the second one having only four measures while the second one have the double amount. The cadence in measures 12-13 has the particularity of having descendent chromatic notes. After the repetition bar it starts a new period with shifts with a new tonality. The melody and the theme completely change with a more movement (moving forward). At the measure 24 there is a half cadence. After this section there is return to the section A with some variation in mood of this second part more fluid and the chromaticisms, which end in a cadence.
In comparison with the other song without words this op 19 no. 1 have a clear melodic line led by the right hand in quarter notes or the half notes sometimes in the left hand, when it comes the B part the mood change because the melody is now in eight notes instead in quarter notes. When we look at the op 62 no. 1 you see more variation in the melody it is more elaborated with quarter notes, eighteen notes and eight notes for example the first three measures.
Mendelsohn have been strongly criticized because of his short piano pieces like the songs without words, because they do not have the elaboration that Chopin gave to his piano pieces but I believe that all the songs without words that Mendelsohn composed are very beautiful and technically for the pianist they are not too simple they require musical-technical work to play them in a right manner.
Crawshaw, Edith A.H. "Mendelssohn's 'Songs without Words."The Musical Quarterly, Vol. 33, No. 1 (Jan., 1947), pp. 1-16Edit
Hans, Tischler; Louis H. Tischler. . "Mendelssohn's 'Songs without Words."The Musical Times, Vol. 73, No. 1076 (Oct. 1, 1932), p. 930 Edit
"Baremboin plays Mendelsshon Songs Without Words op 62 no. 1." Youtube video, Uploaded by "newFranzFerencLiszt," on Dec 15, 2009.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NSWPNty4uTcEdit
"Mendelsshon-Songs without Words op 19 No. 1 (Gortler)." Youtube video, Uploaded by "ClassicalScores" on May 23, 2010: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RIU70B6K7LEdit
Mendelssohn's Songs without words socres: http://imslp.org/wiki/Lieder_ohne_Worte,_Op.19b_%28Mendelssohn,_Felix%29