"In my experience, the best recordings are always miniature recitals; and part of any ideal program in my book is placing works which shed light on each other or on the overall theme of the program in ways which enhance our understanding of these connections. If the idea of “piano music from Leipzig” seems silly in some ways it still sheds light on our understanding of a certain time and place (perhaps Bach has more to do with the 19th century’s understanding of him in this recital). To enhance that experience further the pianist here, Eleanor Meynell, has also chosen to use an instrument which originated in Leipzig: a 1909 Feurich piano that was bought by her mother-in-law in 1954, and subsequently rebuilt in 1954–55 and again in 2013. Its rich tone only adds to the musical experience.
Meynell’s approach is both unfussy and straightforward in a good way: Where other pianists project themselves first and the composer second, Meynell never shies away from her own personality, but she puts the composers’ ideas first and forward. Her Bach is especially noteworthy: The Fantasy is taken at a slightly slower clip, allowing one to relish the numerous dynamic shadings, the careful voicing, and the ebb and flow of the passagework. Her Mendelssohn is also lovely: The melodic line is carefully etched; the accompaniment is appropriately fluid....Grieg’s Lyric Pieces are too made charming in her hands, especially ones such as “Halling,” which is both quirky in its rhythms and acciaccaturas and evocative in especially the beautiful quiet she finds in the most pianissimo of passages. (One can almost imagine oneself sitting in the front parlour of a charming Victorian house listening to a home pianist—albeit a very good one!—perform such a work.) The Gade pieces are fascinating for their sprightly rhythms, their quirky exotic flair, and for Meynell’s obvious delight in playing them: The last one especially is a fascinating work, sounding in her hands like a mazurka co-written by Mendelssohn and Chopin. And she also makes quick work of Brahms’s treacherously difficult early E-Minor Scherzo; here it sounds less like a torrent of orchestral fury and more like a light-hearted drawing room work.
Recorded in fine sound, though perhaps a bit close for some, the overall aura is that of a salon and less of a reverberant concert hall. That works well especially for this program. If these are not my benchmark recordings of these works—most of those performances occur in boring discs devoted to one composer—then I should at least say that this disc has given me more listening pleasure than any other this month. What else is there to say? Charming music, in uneccentric yet musical performances, delightfully presented in the spirit of the 19th-century salon, recorded in beautiful sound and all on a warm-toned Feurich. Grab it and enjoy!"
Scott Noriega, Fanfare magazine