Press review

Music of an Anti-Romantic

Mendelssohn – Felix, surely? – but no, here we are talking about Arnold, the second degree nephew of the former. His oeuvre includes operas, choral works, symphonies, concertos, songs, chamber music and piano works, although here the entire recording of the latter only takes up two hours.

In addition to the sequences of small character pieces, the sonatas are worth noting. They are characterised by a strikingly clear language, which is emphatically classical, not to say plain, and has nothing in common with romanticism.

In a certain way, with his precocious neoclassical style, Arnold Mendelssohn (1855–1933) was a composer ahead of his time. Elżbieta Sternlicht is fully aware of that and performs his piano music in a very clear and lively manner.

Remy Franck
Pizzicato, 2 August 2018

Hearing Impression, Arnold Mendelssohn’s Complete Piano Works on 2 CDs, World Premier Recording

Time and time again, the Mendelssohn family has been the focus of researchers and biographers. It is quite astonishing how many important figures are to be found among the descendants of the Jewish philosopher Moses Mendelssohn.

The pianist Elżbieta Sternlicht, who was educated in Poland and lives in Berlin, has devoted herself particularly to the works of Fanny Mendelssohn. But other members of the Mendelssohn family and their music have also captured her fascination. Arnold Mendelssohn advanced to become one of the most important church musicians of his time. After his death in 1933, his music was banned by the Nazi regime.

Now Elżbieta Sternlicht has made the first ever recording of his piano work. With his emphatically clear tonal language, Arnold Mendelssohn was almost ahead of his time. Elżbieta Sternlicht plays the pieces in a simple and unpretentious manner befitting the air of the music. An interesting recording that opens up a whole new perspective on the extensive creative output of the Mendelssohn family.

Anja Renczikowski
Piano, 2018

Arnold Mendelssohn’s Piano Works Recorded by Elżbieta Sternlicht

The Polish pianist Elżbieta Sternlicht, who lives in Berlin, has released two CDs containing the world premier recording of the complete piano works of Arnold Mendelssohn (1855–1933). A scion of the famous Mendelssohn family, Arnold Mendelssohn was widely known and appreciated as a composer in his lifetime, but fell into complete oblivion following his death in 1933. (…)

The pianist has already demonstrated the versatility of her repertoire in numerous concerts in Europe, America and Asia. Beyond the classical repertoire, she also performs works by lesser-known, or forgotten, composers, helping to secure a new audience for these composers and their works.

In addition to the works of Arnold Mendelssohn, Elżbieta Sternlicht has also recorded three CDs of piano works by Fanny Hensel née Mendelssohn (1805–1847).

Ludwik Lewin
Reunion, Israel, 6 June 2018
Słowo Żydowskie, Warsaw, August 2018

Charity Concert with Elżbieta Sternlicht

After periods spent living in Warsaw and Paris, the pianist Elżbieta Sternlicht now works at Berlin University of the Arts. She is inspired by the works of missing, forgotten and forbidden Jewish composers and has recently recorded the complete piano works of Arnold Mendelssohn for Deutschlandfunk Kultur. At the invitation of the Soroptimist Club, she will be appearing as guest performer in Regensburg – with works by Fanny, Felix and Arnold Mendelssohn, Józef Koffler, Alexander Tcherepnin and György Ligeti.

Mittelbayerische Zeitung, 21/22 October 2017

Jewish Rhythms in Japanese Music
Mazel tov in Japan

»In many countries, music was the force that reunited artist-emigrants who had been scattered« reads the programme for the recital by Berlin pianist Elżbieta Sternlicht, who comes originally from Warsaw.

The concert was dedicated to emigrants and to a dark time that must »never happen again«, even if its ghosts seem to be rising up more and more frequently these days.

Back then, several Jewish musicians from Germany and Austria emigrated to Japan, where they established themselves as composers, conductors and pedagogues.

The influence of these Jewish-German musicians on the local musical landscape – and on Japanese composers, in particular – is undisputed.

This was also clearly audible in the programme of the two piano recitals by Elżbieta Sternlicht.

The Berlin concerts in 2016 revived the memories of Jewish composers, conductors and pedagogues whose work had a significant impact on the artistic development of music in Japan.

Ludwik Lewin
Słowo Żydowskie, Warsaw, October 2017

Musical Conscience
Lecture on the works of Fanny Mendelssohn-Bartholdy

Elżbieta STERNLICHT, a Polish-born Berliner-by-choice, could be considered a first-class choice at the grand piano because of the way she delivered her excellent interpretation of the various piano pieces from »Introduction and Capriccio« to »Farewell to Rome« and »Serenata«.

Märkische Allgemeine, Potsdamer Stadtkurier, 26 October 2009

Long Night of Music on Whit Sunday at CCC Brandenburg
Goosebumps with tin cans and Mussorgsky

»Pictures at an Exhibition« is the name of Modest Mussorgsky’s wonderful piano cycle, which the composer dedicated to his deceased friend Viktor Hartmann. Sensitive and energetic at the same time, pianist Elżbieta Sternlicht brought Hartmann’s paintings to life with her piano playing. Goosebumps were guaranteed here as well.

Ann Brüning
Märkische Allgemeine, 2 June 2009

Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall

The second half, devoted to Debussy’s Images: Books I and II, came as an unexpected delight.

Ms. Sternlicht‘s work with Perlemuter, a great musician and one of the foremost masters of Debussy and Ravel, paid handsome dividends.

All of the Debussy works here were recreated with elegance and simplicity.

Harris Goldsmith
New York Concert Review, Spring 2009

Impressive and Heartfelt Concert

The duet pair that evening were Professor Elżbieta Sternlicht from Berlin University of the Arts and Piotr Prysiażnik (violin) from the orchestra of Deutsche Oper Berlin.

Both artists distinguished themselves with their outstanding virtuosity – a perfect demonstration of classical instrumental music. They interpreted the works with their hearts – and the audience felt this. One is filled with a feeling of gratitude for this wonderful hour of music that has left a lasting impression.

Dieter Hofmann
Schweriner Volkszeitung, Plau am See, 1 July 2008

On the 2007 Competition for New Music

The official final concert of the newly established competition – organised under the patronage of André Schmitz, the Permanent Secretary for Culture of the Berlin Senate – took place in Schöneberg Town Hall in November 2007.

The initiative to create a platform for students and teachers to present and evaluate both compositional and instrumental achievements came from the pianist and teacher Elżbieta Sternlicht, who has long been known in Berlin’s classical concert scene for her spectacular concerts of modern piano music.

The result was overwhelming (…) and the list of contenders long. A special discovery was the young pianist Filip Roch Januchowski (piano class E. Sternlicht). (…)

This competition for new music – for which we owe thanks to the great personal commitment of its initiator Elżbieta Sternlicht – is a necessary sapling in the already thick forest of traditional competitions.

Adelheid Krause-Pichler
nmz, June 2008

The Polish Pioneer of Twelve-Tone Music
Elżbieta Sternlicht records the complete piano works of Józef Koffler

The booklet of the double CD to be reviewed here is published in Polish, English and French, but not in German. This is almost the only flaw in a project that must be considered a major feat in terms of Koffler appreciation. The Polish pianist Elżbieta Sternlicht, who teaches at Berlin University of the Arts, has recorded Koffler’s complete surviving piano works on two CDs, published under catalogue number APO 122/123 by a label with the original name »Acte Préalable«. (…)

In 1927, Koffler writes his next work, the Musique quasi una sonata op. 8, which he dedicates to Karol Szymanowski. (…) The majestic beginning is grandiose, genuinely sonata-like. (…) The »Allegretto á la polonaise« is followed by a »Ben mosso« and a »Sostenuto molto«, both somewhat melancholy movements that radiate the tonal warmth of Alban Berg’s adagios. And Elżbieta Sternlicht unfolds the values of the different registers enchantingly.

Koffler’s wife and child perished with him in the gas chamber. But the music is alive and needs to be brought back to life. Elżbieta Sternlicht has taken a big step in this direction. May she continue her progress along this path.

Gottfried Eberle
musica reanimata, January 2007

Elżbieta Sternlicht Returns to Bach and Chopin
Piano recital

One always has to be prepared for the unusual with her. In recent years, Elżbieta Sternlicht has been a strong voice for outsiders of the repertoire. Not only was she the first in the world to record the complete piano works of the Polish composer Józef Koffler, but she also published three CDs with music by Fanny Hensel. Her committed programmes have introduced us to nearly forgotten works by artists persecuted by the Nazis, as well as to contemporary composers from Brazil, Israel and Taiwan.

Now, the pianist has returned to her musical roots, that is, to the core repertoire of Bach and Chopin that has accompanied her since childhood.

Time and time again, she has been acclaimed for her special sense of musical poetry.

Martina Helmig
Berliner Morgenpost, 19 October 2006

Fanny Mendelssohn
Piano Works

For this reviewer, the Allegro grazioso No. 1 alone makes this disc worth purchasing.

The opening theme that sings forth immediately recalls the work of her more famous brother, but also conjures the ghost of a Brahms intermezzo. A great surprise – and one that will bring the listener to hear this piece again and again – is the second section, which plunges us right into the second movement of the Brahms second piano concerto (…) written almost forty years later. This is a work of great beauty, played with wonderful restraint by Sternlicht.

These world premier recordings sound very good and are beautifully played by Sternlicht, who has also done a wonderful job performing far different repertoire with two discs of Józef Koffler‘s works. (…) A truly enjoyable recording.

David Blomenberg
MusicWeb International, April 2006

Józef Koffler, Piano Works: Volume One

On offer [at Acte Préalable] is this the first of two discs of Józef Koffler‘s piano music. Newly and crisply recorded, Sternlicht plays with spirit and conviction, and, it appears, affection. The piano is bright and well balanced.

(…) None of these pieces is long – the largest-scale work on this disc is the excellent five-movement Op. 8 (…). The construction of these pieces is taut and lean, and Sternlicht’s clarity shows this to great advantage.

(…) The settings are overall very light, sensitive and enjoyable, with the touch of Schubert at times.

(…) If the quality of those recordings [from Acte Préalable] is on the same level as this release, we are in for a very rich feast indeed.

David Blomenberg
MusicWeb International, January 2006

Brilliant Composer Received Late Recognition
Concert on the occasion of the 200th birthday of Fanny Hensel at Börnicke Castle

The Polish pianist Elżbieta Sternlicht, a student of Zbigniew Drzewiecki and Vlado Perlemuter, has recorded the complete piano works of J. Koffler for the label Acte Préalable – and for this she deserves special recognition.

In her interpretation, the pianist coaxed a wide palette of colourful nuances out of Koffler’s work, making the hitherto unknown pieces accessible in an extremely appealing manner.

The world premier recording of J. Koffler’s piano works is undoubtedly a commendable achievement. The recordings were made possible by the charitable foundations Waldemar Koch Stiftung and Stiftung ZURÜCKGEBEN.

Ruch Muzyczny, Warsaw, 13 November 2005Elżbieta Sternlicht strides towards her grand piano. For a brief moment, her fingers pause tonelessly on the keys, then they suddenly rush off. Fantasia is the name of the piece. An ominous rumble of low notes fills the hall. A few bars later, it develops into a roundel of clear, well-sorted notes that finally disappears in a whirl of romantic virtuosity. The pianist uses her piano to bring to life music that has hitherto been unknown to most of this evening’s listeners.

Jan Hobohm
Märkische Oderzeitung, 15 November 2005

Pianistic Koffler

The Polish pianist Elżbieta Sternlicht, a student of Zbigniew Drzewiecki and Vlado Perlemuter, has recorded the complete piano works of J. Koffler for the label Acte Préalable – and for this she deserves special recognition.

In her interpretation, the pianist coaxed a wide palette of colourful nuances out of Koffler’s work, making the hitherto unknown pieces accessible in an extremely appealing manner.

The world premier recording of J. Koffler’s piano works is undoubtedly a commendable achievement. The recordings were made possible by the charitable foundations Waldemar Koch Stiftung and Stiftung ZURÜCKGEBEN.

Krzysztof Rottermund
Ruch Muzyczny, Warsaw, 13 November 2005

Homage à Witold Szalonek

The concert was dedicated to the late Polish composer Witold Szalonek, who died four years ago.

The Polish pianist Elżbieta Sternlicht presented a programme of works by W. Szalonek and György Ligeti, alongside world premieres of pieces by Romuald Twardowski, Sidney Corbett and Rainer Rubbert. The works of G. Ligeti and R. Rubbert, in particular, allowed the pianist to demonstrate her virtuosity and artistry to the full. The concert was an extraordinary success and was met with warm applause by the audience.

Krzysztof Rottermund
Kurier Polonica, Berlin, November 2005

»Carmina Burana« and so much more…

Before the intermission, the audience was treated to a performance of a piece that is played rather rarely – Fantasy for Piano, Choir and Orchestra in C minor op. 80 by Ludwig van Beethoven.

In Sternlicht and Borsuk’s interpretation, the piano part sounded decidedly soloistic.

The Polish pianist Elżbieta Sternlicht, who lives in Berlin, was at her best and played the piano part masterfully and with a typically sonorous Beethoven sound.

Krzysztof Rottermund
Ruch Muzyczny, Warsaw, November 2004
Kurier Polonica, Berlin, December 2004

»Unheard Music« with Elżbieta Sternlicht

As part of the concert series »Unerhörte Musik«, the Polish pianist Elżbieta Sternlicht presented two German premieres, »Sto lat« (1998) by Piotr Lachert and »Epitaph« (2001) by Wilhelm von Grunelius. For the first time in Berlin, she also performed Luciano Berio’s »Sonata per pianoforte solo« (2001).

In his »Sonata«, Berio remains true to his own aesthetic and compositional principles and makes ample use of avant-garde sound techniques. The »Sonata« with its light, romantic aura and its air of great virtuosity helped the soloist towards a sensational stage performance.

The piano recital with Elżbieta Sternlicht, who has long devoted herself to performing lesser-known compositions and new music, was extraordinarily successful and met with thunderous applause.

Krzysztof Rottermund
Ruch Muzyczny, Warsaw, 13 June 2004
Kurier Polonica, Berlin, July 2004

Piano recital with Elżbieta Sternlicht in the Kammermusiksaal of the Philharmonie

The fact that the Polish pianist is popular and well-known could be seen from the audience streaming into the Kammermusiksaal of the Philharmonie. In addition Elżbieta Sternlicht presented a highly remarkable evening programme. Pieces that are almost unmanageable for every pianist, interlarded with technical and rhythmic difficulties, and also tremendously complex regarding the contents.

The pianist interpreted Schostkowisch (24 Preludes op.34) with deliberation and gave the cycle an own shape through articulate finesse.

Debussy’s 12 Études, which’s playing from memory deserves high respect, were always presented according to their programmatic titles so that the real Études character of the pieces came to the surface, avoiding the usual romanticism.

Adelheid Krause-Pichler
Neue Musik Zeitung September 2003

Without Chopin
Piano recitals with Elżbieta Sternlicht and Arcadi Volodos

Elżbieta Sternlicht played two entire piano cycles, both obviously bound to the formal models established by Chopin:

The Préludes op. 34 by Dmitri Schostakowitsch – arranged in all keys as Chopin’s – and Douze Études by Claude Debussy written »a la memoire de Frédéric Chopin«, two great cycles that are heard much too rarely.

Sternlicht’s pianistic art is descriptive…

Wolfgang Fuhrmann
Berliner Zeitung 12/13 April 2003

In the Soundworld of Modern Music Promising prologue to the 4th International Piano Forum »…antasten…« in Heilbronn

…on Thursday night the 4th International Piano Forum »…antasten…« was opened in the City Museums of Heilbronn. The only shortcoming of the opening concert with Elżbieta Sternlicht was the acoustic of the museum hall in the Deutschhof, which was less than ideal. The hall was completely filled when Elżbieta Sternlicht sat down at the grand piano and made clear at once with Menachem Zur’s »Center« and »Circle of Time« what an excellent pianist was presenting herself here.

The »…antasten…« prologue was a promising one which made clear: here the quality of previous Piano Forums is being continued without interruption.

Uwe Grosser
Heilbronner Stimme, September 23rd, 1999

In the Shade of the Brother

One is the more thankful for the recordings at hand, which take into consideration the eight piano pieces of the time between 1838 and 1840. Thus Elżbieta Sternlicht deserves great credit for this very welcome enlargement of repertoire.

Giselher Schubert
Fono Forum, August 1998

A Trio for Violin, Alto Saxophone and Piano

But the real surprise of the evening was the pianist Elżbieta Sternlicht. The Polish pianist convinced the audience with a performance characterised by definition and richness of power that would not have been expected from her rather small and frail appearance. In Elżbieta Sternlicht’s interpretation of Debussy’s »L’Isle Joyeux« and Schoenberg’s »Sechs kleine Klavierstücke op.19« a distinguished creative power based on a completely sovereign pianistic technique could be heard.

Ilse Cordes
Cuxhavener Nachrichten, July 5th, 1998

Sternlichte Sternstunde
In the Kammermusiksaal mystery is triumphant- and Elżbieta Sternlicht too, playing Messiaen’s opus magnum for piano.

Olivier Messiaen began composing his full-length piano cycle »Vingt Regards sur l’Enfant-Jesus« in March 1944 during the occupation of Paris and completed it after the liberation. Elżbieta Sternlicht invited the public in the Kammermusiksaal. of the Philharmonie Berlin to the absorption appropriate to this work. The Messiaen-specialist challenged the 2nd part of the pianistic opus magnum with requirements on sparkling virtuosity and guarded concentration which she met brilliantly. Her colour balanced touch provided transparency in the tonally dense structures, and her concentrated articulation of even the shockingly rapid appoggiatura figures secured rhythmic clarity in spite of the complex structure. …This cultivated interpretation was not stingy with great moments of tonal delicacy: mystery was led to triumph.

Volker Straebel
Der Tagesspiegel (Berlin), November 2nd, 1997

Mozart in Minor and Black Mass with Light and Shade.

…the dark mood of Mozart’s Sonata A minor K. 310, with which Elżbieta Sternlicht opened her piano recital in the Philharmonie. With Chopin’s Nocturnes she was completely in her element. In the Nocturne F minor sounds of pastel-coloured delicacy were to be heard. Referring to the music of the Polish composer, Heinrich Heine once spoke of virtuosity in the garment of poetry: Elżbieta Sternlicht’s piano playing brought this. thought to life.

Alexander Scriabin’s 9th Sonata seems like a cornucopia of pianistic possibilities. The pianist proved her great mastery once more in the forming of the soft and frail passages. Here she succeeded in creating a kind of shiver of creepy well-being in the audience. Elżbieta Sternlicht mastered the 2nd book of Debussy’s »Preludes« with its high musical and technical demands in a manner highly astonishing: a Debussy-interpreter of rank.

Berliner Morgenpost, September 6th, 1995

Fanny Hensel-Mendelssohn
Lyrische Stücke für Klavier

The Polish pianist Elżbieta Sternlicht introduces the »Lyrische Stücke für Klavier« by Fanny Hensel-Mendelssohn. She does it with pleasure of playing and precision, with atmospheric denseness and clear structuring. She refrains from pathetic gestures that could also be imagined in music that is romantic through and through. This is what distinguishes this production.

Neue Zeitschrift für Musik, November 1993

Record Box

The small but committed label Thorofon puts a first recording of lyric piano pieces on the market. The Polish pianist living in Berlin, Elżbieta Sternlicht, interprets these »Lieder ohne Worte« both unsentimentally and feelingly, always bringing out the melody clearly and singingly, and so closes a small gap in the in no way depleted repertoire of this so far underestimated composer.

Der Tagesspiegel (Berlin), December 13th, 1992

Piano Music: Fanny or Felix

The lyrical pieces by Fanny Hensel-Mendelssohn are becoming an object of speculation within feminist history of music. Fanny is in any case a master of the small form and the character piece; Elżbieta Sternlicht proves this thesis by playing the piano with warmth and deliberateness of sound.

Frankfurter Neue Presse, December 4th, 1992

Fanny Mendelssohn
Lyrische Stücke

In the Thorofon production at hand, the pianist Elżbieta Sternlicht makes herself the champion of an undiscovered artist.

Keyboards Dezember 1992

Concert with the Poles

With its traditional concerts the Polish Cultural Centre contributes to the musical life in Prague. In the previous concert the pianist E. Sternlicht, who is of Polish origin, gave a performance.

Three Mazurkas from op. 50 by K. Szymanowski impressed the audience with invention, humour and the harmonic harshness of the music of our century. In the performance given by the artist they revealed intense sound and sudden dynamic contrasts.

Lidova demokracie (Prague), November 20th, 1991

The Audience Thanked with Rapturous Applause

With her performance the Berlin pianist Elżbieta Sternlicht entered the hearts of the Sao Paulo friends of classical music. The concert was an absolutely beautiful aesthetic treat. The audience thanked her with rapturous applause.

Deutsche Zeitung (São Paulo), August 9th,1991

Unheard of Music in the BKA

A variety of nuances which she brought out impressively in Arnold Schoenberg’s Sechs kleine Klavierstücke opus 19 and Drei Klavierstücke opus 11. The aphoristic style of the Kleine Klavierstücke as well as the differentiated »timbre melodies« of the Drei Klavierstücke were performed by Elżbieta Sternlicht with the utmost concentration and expressiveness (…) in this unheard of, exciting piano recital.

Franz Groborz
Der Tagesspiegel (Berlin), April 18th, 1991

Women Composers Yesterday and Today
An exhibition in the Amerika-Gedenkbibliothek, Berlin

In the »Erotiques« by Joanna Bruzdowicz the excellent pianist Elżbieta Sternlicht shaped every nuance and drew a delicate dialogue between two compositional principles. A composition by Arvo Pärt with the title »Fratres« delighted the audience with a spherical lyricism in arpeggios, clear plainness, magically, beautifully.

Ursula Stürzbecher
Das Orchester, Februar 1982