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All the professional recordings of Mendelssohn's "Song without Words" op.53. No. 3 last below three minutes (look at this list). As a matter of fact, some recordings last just 2 minutes! What's the purpose/idea behind playing it so fast? Isn't the musicality lost this way? Is anything wrong with a lower tempo, for example like this one?


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If the title of the YouTube video you linked to is right it is 'presto agitato', which means incredibly fast as if you are in a hurry, loosely translated. The melody is in the left hand and is relatively slow, so the musicality of the melody is not lost if you play it fast, playing the accompanying broken chords though is kind of boring if you play it slowly. – 11684 Dec 7 '13 at 9:18

Maybe one reason is that Mendelssohn wrote Presto agitato (fast and agitated) at the beginning of the piece! Don't confuse musicality and slowness. In fact, in my opinion the performance in the video you gave is not (yet) very musical. It feels heavy and lacks direction, and that's partly because it's so slow. But that's not the whole reason. I think that with good phrasing and some imagination (musicality!) one can give a convincing performance of the piece at that tempo.

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Partly because melody and accompaniment are played equally loud, while normally one would play the accompaniment softer than the melody. And I don't have the sheet music at hand, but the man in the video in the OP seems to apply excessive force to the keyboard. – 11684 Dec 7 '13 at 9:56
@11684 I don't know the copyright condition in your country, but here it is:,_Op.53_(Mendelssohn,_Felix) – Behzad Dec 7 '13 at 10:47
I would interpret that as arpeggiation with rhythm, not like slow and lyrical chords because of the tempo, the f and sf and the staccato points on the last notes of every broken chord. – 11684 Dec 7 '13 at 15:36
And indeed, a single f is less than what is played in th video. – 11684 Dec 7 '13 at 15:37

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