> MOSCHELLES Piano Concertos [CF]: Classical CD Reviews- Oct 2002 MusicWeb(UK)

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Ignaz MOSCHELES (1794-1870)
Piano Concerto No. 2 in E flat major Op.56

Allegro moderato
Allegretto: tempo di Polacca
Piano Concerto No. 3 in G minor Op.58

Allegro moderato
Allegro agitato
Anticipations of Scotland: A Grand Fantasia Op.75

Introduction: Adagio ma non troppo
Kelvin Grove: Andantino con moto
Auld Robin Gray: Adagio espressivo
Lord Moira’s Strathspey: Allegro moderato
Finale: Allegro vivace
Howard Shelley (piano/conductor)
Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra
Recorded in Federation Concert Hall, Hobart, Tasmania on 7-9 August 2001
The Romantic Piano Concerto: Volume 29
HYPERION CDA67276 [75.50]


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Moscheles, like so many composers in this Hyperion series, was a virtuoso pianist and later an eminent pedagogue, making his mark from his early teenage years when he played a concerto he penned himself. Bridging Beethoven and Liszt was a hard challenge to which he rose, and as a close friend of Mendelssohn his music inevitably reflects his style, indeed it was as a result of this friendship that he was appointed the principal professor of piano at the Leipzig Conservatory. As his career burgeoned it kept pace with technological developments in the instrument, such as range, pitch, keyboard facility of execution, volume and expressive powers. Similarly the virtuoso soloist was now beginning to take centre-stage, the instrument was becoming the rage, everyone wanted their daughters to learn it, everyone wanted to witness the latest phenomenal pianist or child prodigy, so the players wrote such works for themselves. There was no easier way than to get them played if the composer did it himself, not just concertos but also single-movement works such as the Fantasy or the Klavierstück; after all it was not until 1840 before the first full-length piano recital was given by Liszt.

The works featured as part of the series are typical showcase compositions, here expertly played and directed from the keyboard as Moscheles himself would have done, by Howard Shelley. Moscheles is a natural composer to gravitate to after Shelley’s inspired dedication to the concertos and other works of Hummel. Moscheles was also an original composer despite his obvious gratitude to Beethoven, Mozart and Clementi, while his contemporaries and rivals of the 1820s would have included Kalkbrenner, Weber and Hummel among others. Over a period of roughly twenty years (1819 to 1838) he produced eight concertos, many of them sharing the common features of classical structure and movements based on popular dances of the era such as the Polonaise (the finale of the second concerto featured here on the third track for instance, is at times almost a duet between piano and timpani). The filler is interesting once it gets under way after a rather sluggish introduction, because at this time (1828) Scotland was beginning to attract composers such as Mendelssohn and later Bruch, though while the former famously visited the country, the latter never did. Lord Moira’s Strathspey (track 10) is great fun and will get the kilts a-swirling.

Shelley is one of our finest pianists and an excellent musician, and his playing has that crisp clarity which energises and highlights the music, incredibly clean passage work and subtle pedalling the key ingredients. Hardly a dull moment during this highly enjoyable disc.

Christopher Fifield

Hyperion Romantic Piano Concerto Series


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