Piotr MOSS(b.1949) Symphonie Concertante, for flute, piano and orchestra (1985)
+Adagio III, for orchestra (1998) [10:23]
*Portraits - Concerto for piano and orchestra (2003) [30:30]
Elz.bieta Gajewska (flute); Barbara Halska (piano); *Emilian Madey
Polish Radio and Television Orchestra in Krakˇw
+Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra in Katowice/Zbigniew Graca
*Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra/*Tomasz Bugaj
rec. Kinoteatr Zwia;zkowiec, Krakˇw, 25-27 May 1994; Grzegorz Fitelberg
Concert Hall, Katowice, 27 February 2002 (Adagio III); Witold Lutos?awski
Concert Studio, Polish Radio, Warsaw, 8 March 2007 (Portraits).
DUX 0839 [74:46]
These recordings come from the archives of Polish Radio. A recent release by DUX of more works by Piotr Moss - Polish despite his very British-looking surname - featuring newer recordings, was warmly reviewed here.
Moss has an impressive background: he was taught by both Graz.yna Bacewicz and Krzysztof Penderecki in Poland and none other than Nadia Boulanger in France, where he eventually settled and took up citizenship in 1984. Moss's total absence from New Grove or any of the Oxford Music Online reference works is inexplicable. Even the generally authoritative and reliable Polish Music Information Centre has not updated his works data since 2003.
Even that laggard list makes clear that Moss has written a huge amount of music, of which only a pitifully small fraction has been recorded - even the Polish labels have been remiss in this regard, with the number of monographs in any case countable on one hand. In that context, then, this is, fingers crossed, the second of a whole DUX series devoted to Moss.
Certainly his music is worth it: his orchestration, witnessed in this exciting multi-orchestra programme, is masterful, deeply expressive, and compellingly exciting. Portraits in particular is memorable: Moss himself describes it as "a late-Romantic concerto written today", and there is assuredly plenty of good old-fashioned narrative, dramatic gesturing and bustle. The last minute is as electrifyingly high-octane as anything by Liszt. Adagio III is more anxious and brooding, hardly surprising in light of its dedication to the memory of Moss's friend, the French composer Antoine TisnÚ. TisnÚ died prematurely in 1998, and by way of commentary, the piece ends suddenly too.
Symphonie Concertante has, in Moss's own words again, a "mosaic character", like much of his music - including Portraits - consisting of small contrastive elements juxtaposed to give a restless, relentless effect. Yet these units are always seamlessly conjoined, with each kaleidoscopic episode seeming to flow entirely naturally into the next. Towards the end, some birdsong is surprisingly introduced, but on the whole, Moss's music, though perfectly approachable, broadly tonal and sometimes even tuneful, may well prove too noisy, too dissonance-heavy for many palettes. At a minimum, a fondness for the harmonies of post-avant-garde Penderecki might be considered a prerequisite.
Moss's music is also highly virtuosic, and the three soloists really earn their wages in these recordings, as indeed do the orchestras and their conductors. In what may be a first since the 1970s, incidentally, pianist Madey is rather incongruously pictured smoking a cigarette - with the photo copyright of his mother!
As the recordings were made at different times in different places, sound quality is not uniform. In particular, the Symphonie Concertante has a dry, recessed, slightly cramped feeling. Nevertheless, technical quality is generally of such a high standard in Polish recordings that at their worst these could still knock spots off many. On the other hand, there is some undignified noisy page-turning in the Symphonie Concertante! The booklet notes are by Moss himself, well written if rather sober, and well translated.
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