It was a good day for Ricard de la Rosa's ProPiano
label when Mlle Budiardjo came to his attention. Of course they also
chose their repertoire well. The first disc welcomed here was of Godowsky's
Java Suite. Those fragrant piano 'postcards' were done exquisitely and
the CD remains well worth seeking out amid the drifts of new releases.
In the present case Esther Budiardjo takes on Moszkowski's
glittering challenges. Here was a composer who was born in East Prussia
and who died in Paris. He held the public gaze throughout Europe as
a tiger of the keyboard. Then the old story turned its basilisk gaze
towards the unfortunate composer. Fashion shied away from Moszkowski's
decorative style. The Great War wiped out his investments. Friends in
the USA eased his final years with benefits concerts but his high days
and holidays had gone forever. Moszkowski was married, by the way, to
the sister of the French composer, Cécile Chaminade.
Budiardjo excels in this repertoire. Her playing is
tight yet pliable. Her rhythmic and dynamic instincts are highly developed.
In the ten Hungarian Dances (quite a few old friends here!) she is apt
to the music's wayward caprice and improvisatory character. She relishes
the cheeky F major dance (No. 3), rolls out the grand manner in the
second dance and takes careful pleasure in the slyness and grandeur
of the D flat major. The neglected E minor dance is an exercise in unselfish
grace. Then comes some pure Moszkowski in the Vingt Etudes. These are
predominantly scintillating variously evocative of Bach, Mozart and
Liszt though some betray a very personal romantic heart and lofty manner.
The cascades and rhythmic torrents contribute a certain sameness but
there are diversions in the shape of the B minor (No. 8), G minor (No.
10) and E flat major (No. 17) where the moderato or andante pacing suggests
quiescent pools of tranquillity. The pianist's Kawai EX 2186001 is warmly
I rather hope that Budiardjo will tackle a complete
set of the Rachmaninov Etudes-Tableaux, the Medtner Skazki, the preludes
by Roger Sacheverell Coke and the Essays in the Modes by John Foulds.
The notes are in French and English.
The disc is rather short on playing time but piano
fanciers already on the trail of Scharwenka, Moszkowski and Godowsky
should not be without this disc which is most beautifully done. These
are world premiere recordings.