This was the first assault by Hyperion on the sanctuary
of the romantic piano concerto. The two works have the Polish nationality
of their composers in common.
The 37 minute Moskowski has been recorded before
but has it ever been given such a raunchily rambunctious performance.
This is not all stormy belligerence nor yet lofty heroics. Moskowski
manages real depth rather than superficial prettiness in the andante.
His style rustles and bumps along between Saint-Saens, Tchaikovsky and
Rachmaninov as points of his compass. There is ‘Barnum and Bailey’ showmanship
in the finale which slews into Vaudeville and out again into delicacy
and nostalgic sensibility: tears among the pearls!
This should make us all wonder what we are missing
in his three orchestral suites (perhaps another Massenet?), his opera
Boabdil (1892), the ballet Laurin (1896) and the Violin
Concerto about which Jeremy Nicholas writes with such passionate advocacy
that I am desperate to hear it. Perhaps it is as good or even better
than the neglected concertos by de Boeck, Ivanovs and Karlowicz. I have
the Moskowski down on my ‘hit-list’ now.
The Paderewski Concerto is even more Russian and
romantic than the Moskowski with its forays into Hispanicism and pictorial
asides. One wonders, when listening to the Allegro, whether Medtner
had heard the work and echoed it in sections of his Sonata Romantica.
It is intriguing to hear that Paderewski took his concerto to Saint-Saëns,
that high priest of the entertainment concerto, who expressed himself
reassuringly confident of its worth. In truth Saint-Saëns might
well have listened to this work and recognised that the Pole had written
a work of greater plangent emotional reach than he was ever able to
muster. Try the singing undulation of the Romanza which impresses
with both ease and eloquence. The waspish skirl of the Allegro molto
vivace perhaps recalls the wild cross-rhythms of the Polish highlands
as in Szymanowski's Harnasie. It is despatched with due lightness
and weight by Piers Lane (a pupil of Yonty Solomon and Bela Siki - whatever
happened to Siki? - I am sure I recall his recordings from Pye LPs)
and the BBC Scottish. This work put me in mind of the Huss concerto
on volume 16.
A great start to the series and well worth having.
Romantic Piano Series