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This E minor effort is number three in the fifth book of Mendelssohn's lengthy series of piano pieces "Songs Without Words". None of the works in this eight-book collection are transcriptions of songs, as some have assumed, though most of them brim with a lyricism that would fit well in a vocal treatment. This one is an exception: subtited "Trauermarsch" (Funeral March), its dark music for once shows Mendelssohn turning away from lighter moods and lighter treatments of serious subjects. Ironically, the composer wrote his own funeral music here: Moscheles orchestrated the piece four years later for performance at Mendelssohn's funeral. Marked Andante maestoso, the piece opens with a grim, fanfare-like motif virtually identical to the motto played by the trumpet that opens Mahler's Symphony No.5, written more than a half century later. Mendelssohn's ensuing main theme is stately and dark, and takes on an epic and more ominous manner as its inexorable tread marches on. The opening motif returns midway through, and then closes the piece after the funeral march is reprised in the second half of the piece. Lasting about three minutes, this is one of the most profound of the Songs Without Words.
This arrangement features a supplemental third violin part with an additional bass part for use with string orchestra.
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