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Wydawnictwo: Hyperion
Seria: Romantic Piano Concertos
Nr katalogowy: CDA 66452
Nośnik: 1 CD
EAN: 34571164526
54,00 zł
29,6% taniej
38,00 zł
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Epoka muzyczna: romantyzm
Obszar (język): polski
Instrumenty: fortepian
Rodzaj: koncert

Paderewski / Moszkowski: The Romantic Piano Concertos Vol 1 - Moszkowski and Paderewski

Hyperion - CDA 66452
Pierce Lane, piano
BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra / Jerzy Maksymiuk
Piano Concerto In E Major
Piano Concerto In A
Of the myriad piano concertos composed in the second half of the nineteenth century all but a handful are forgotten. The survivors are played with a regularity that borders on the monotonous the ubiquitous Tchaikovsky No 1, the Grieg, Saint-Saëns’s Second (in G minor), the two by Brahms and, really, that is just about all there is on offer. Pianists, promoters and record companies play it safe and opt for the familiar. Even a masterpiece can become an unwelcome guest, especially when subjected to an unremarkable outing by yet another indifferent player, as happens so frequently today.

How refreshing, then, to have the dust brushed off two forgotten specimens of late nineteenth-century piano concertos and rendered clean and polished for inspection again. Refreshing and rewarding, for both are exactly the sort of pieces that make one wonder why we are forced to live off such a limited concerto diet. How is it that such appealing, well-crafted, imaginative works with their high spirits and luscious tunes could have vanished from the repertoire? Why is it that neither is played as frequently as, say, the Grieg Concerto? Or instead of it? What is it about them that has failed to put them in the classical pop charts? Listening to them afresh it is a teasing question to answer; the longer one ponders the matter the fewer become the justifiable, verifiable reasons why today’s audiences so rarely have the opportunity to enjoy works such as these two delightful crowd-pleasers. It is time for those who promote and play piano music to be more adventurous and imaginative in their programming before this particular corner of the repertoire dies a death from staleness and stultification.

‘After Chopin,’ wrote Paderewski, ‘Moritz Moszkowski best understands how to write for the piano, and his writing embraces the whole gamut of piano technique.’ The two pianist-composers had more than their art in common. Both were Poles (though Moszkowski was born in Breslau, then the capital of Silesia in Germany). Both were witty, cultivated men. Moszkowski’s most celebrated bon mot immortalised him a riposte to the pompous pronouncement by Hans von Bülow, ‘Bach, Beethoven, Brahms: Tous les autres sont des crétins’ (‘All the others are idiots’), to which Moszkowski replied: ‘Mendelssohn, Meyerbeer and your humble servant Moritz Moszkowski: Tous les autres sont des chrétiens!’ (‘All the others are christians!’). Paderewski’s most famous line, incidentally, though probably apocryphal, also concerned a play on words. When mistaken by a wealthy American hostess for a famous polo player, Paderewski is supposed to have replied, ‘No,he is a rich soul who plays polo I am a poor Pole who plays solo.’

Moszkowski also helped Paderewski in seeing that some of the younger man’s work was published. But there similarities end. As far as their lives and careers went, Moszkowski’s beginning mirrored Paderewski’s end; Padereski’s beginning mirrored Moszkowski’s end.

Born in 1854 into a wealthy family, Moritz Moszkowski began music studies at an early age in Dresden, continued at the Stern Conservatory in Berlin and then went on to Theodor Kullak, a pupil of Czerny, at the Neue Akademie der Tonkunst. (Among his fellow students there were the brothers Philip and Xaver Scharwenka who remained friends throughout his life.) He made his debut as a concert pianist in Berlin when he was nineteen and for the next 24 years gave recitals all over Europe, taught at Kullak’s Academy, conducted and composed. When he settled in Paris at the age of 43 he was a famous and well-respected musician. He was also very wealthy for, early on in his career, he had written two pieces of music which were among the most popular piano compositions of the last century. In every piano stool in the land you could find a copy of his Serenade, Op 15 No 1, and the Spanish Dances, Op 12, for piano duet.

He and his wife (the sister of Cécile Chaminade) were a popular couple, well-connected and generous in their help of other musicians. Moszkowski, like Grieg and Chopin, was more at home with the piano than anything else, though he achieved some success in London, at least, as a composer of large-scale symphonic works Joan of Arc, for example (almost certainly an influence on Richard Strauss’s Death and Transfiguration), three Suites for Orchestra, incidental music to Don Juan and Faust, an opera Boabdil (1892) and ballet Laurin (1896). There is also the splendid, romantic Violin Concerto, Op 30 a show-stopper that, curiously, has never found a champion.

But of all the melodious and elegant works of Moritz Moszkowski it is his Piano Concerto in E, Op 59, that most strongly begs for revival. It is not a short work and it is not an easy work for the soloist, but its grateful pianistic writing, its memorable themes and its sunny optimism make its present neglect quite incomprehensible. No one could pretend that it is deep music, but if, as one writer put it, ‘it fails to stir the intellect, it sets the pulses tingling’. Were it to be given at a major music festival in place of the usual fare it would bring the house down; given a televised performance, it would re-establish itself as one of the most popular concertos in the repertoire a status which it enjoyed for many years before the First World War, especially in Germany and the UK (the composer himself was the soloist in its British premiere at a Philharmonic Concert on 12 May 1898).

The Concerto is dedicated ‘a Monsieur Josef Casimir Hofmann’ a singular tribute to a 22-year-old who had studied briefly with Moszkowski in his teens. It is one of the very few written in the key of E major. (The only others that spring to mind are those by Rubinstein (No 1), Liapunov (No 2), Tchaikovsky (No 3), and Marx (‘Romantic’ Concerto). It was also virtually the last large-scale work that Moszkowski attempted. Ten years after its composition he was, at the age of 54, already a recluse, constantly ill. He had lost his wife and daughter, his son had been summoned to serve in the French army, and he was, as one friend described him, ‘no longer buoyed by ambition’. He sold all the copyrights of his music and invested the enormous capital in German, Polish and Russian bonds. With the advent of the First World War he lost everything and lingered on till 1925, too sick in body and mind to do anything, dying of stomach cancer in Paris, a pauper.

The musical world still looks down its nose at the mention of the name of Moritz Moszkowski. He is all-too-readily pigeon-holed by the derogatory label ‘polished salon music composer’. He was not an original, one is reminded; he added nothing new to musical language; he wrote nothing that others had not written better before him. But are these good enough reasons to ignore the facile, joyous, champagne-brilliance of Moszkowski’s music and help to dissuade all but a handful of imaginative pianists from tackling his entertaining Piano Concerto?

Ignacy Jan Paderewski’s Piano Concerto in A minor, Op 17, is chronologically the older of the two works, though written by the younger of the two composers. Paderewski, born in November 1860 in Kurylowka, Podolia (Russian-Poland), was a still virtually unknown 28-year-old when he composed his one Concerto. (His only other large scale work for piano and orchestra is the Fantaisie Polonaise, Op 19, written some five years later.) Though he had made his debut at the tender age of eleven, his career proper as a solo pianist did not take off until his mid-twenties after extensive studies with the great pedagogue Theodor Leschetizky. A spectacular recital in Paris in March 1888 and a further one in Vienna in November the same year were the starting points for a performing career that would make his name synonymous with the piano and lend it near-legendary status during his lifetime.

Before his lessons with Leschetizky, his musical life had been a penurious uncertainty for his early dreams of becoming a soloist were wedded to those of becoming a composer. He took courses in composition at the Warsaw Conservatory between 1875 and 1877 while simultaneously touring provincial Russian towns with the Polish violinist Cielewicz. In 1878 he joined the piano faculty in Warsaw, but left four years later to study composition with Friedrich Kiel in Berlin. Here he met Anton Rubinstein who, at that time, occupied the position in the piano world which Liszt had held (and which was to shortly become Paderewski’s). Rubinstein was of the opinion that Paderewski should take his compositional abilites more seriously and the younger man, with characteristic diligence and determination, set about doing just that. He studied orchestration with Heinrich Urban in Berlin and then, financed by the the celebrated Polish actress Modjeska, left for Vienna and his seminal tutelage with Leschetizky.

1888, the year of Paderewski’s Paris and Vienna debuts, was also the year of the composition of the Piano Concerto the year when the two driving forces of his creative life emerged finally from the wilderness to meet in triumph. His state of mind at the time is etched into every bar of the concerto, revelling in exuberant pianism and fervent emotion.

Paderewski began its composition in his apartment in Vienna, after his triumphant recital in Paris. ‘I wrote it in a very short time. I scored it in ’89 in Paris,’ he recalled in his memoirs, published in 1939:

When I finished [the] concerto, I was still lacking in experience. I had not even heard it performed it was something I was longing for. I wanted to have the opinion then of a really great orchestral composer. I needed it. So without further thought I took my score and went directly to Saint-Saëns. [Saint-Saëns had been unfailingly kind to him on previous occasions, attending his concerts when he had played the French master’s Fourth Piano Concerto.] But I was rather timid … I realised on second thoughts that it was, perhaps, presumption on my part to go to him. Still I went to his house nevertheless. I was so anxious for his opinion. He opened the door himself. ‘Oh, Paderewski, it’s you. Come in,’ he said. ‘Come in. What do you want?’ I realised even before he spoke that he was in a great hurry and irritable, probably writing something as usual and not wanting to be interrupted. ‘What can I do for you? What do you want?’ I hesitated what to answer. I knew he was annoyed. I had come at the wrong moment … ‘I came to ask your opinion about my piano concerto,’ I said very timidly. ‘I .’ ‘My dear Paderewski,’ he cried, ‘I have not the time. I cannot talk to you today. I cannot.’ He took a few steps impatiently about the room. ‘Well, you are here so I suppose I must receive you. Let me hear your concerto. Will you play it for me?’ He took the score and read it as I played. He listened very attentively. At the Andante he stopped me, saying, ‘What a delightful Andante! Will you kindly repeat that?’ I repeated it. I began to feel encouraged. He was interested. Finally he said, ‘There is nothing to be changed. You may play it whenever you like. It will please the people. It’s quite ready. You needn’t be afraid of it, I assure you.’ So the interview turned out very happily after all, and he sent me off with high hopes and renewed courage. At that moment in my career, his assurance that the concerto was ready made me feel a certain faith in my work that I might not have had then.

Paderewski had wanted to play the premiere of the work himself but Madame Essipoff (a formidable pianist and Leschetizky’s wife at that moment) said, ‘as she had introduced some of his (Paderewski’s) compositions already in Vienna, she would like to do this concerto too.’ She had been studying it for several weeks. It was a request that Paderewski acceded to somewhat reluctantly but was, after all, ‘glad to have her do it, because I had not studied the concerto sufficiently for a great public performance.’

Thanks to the influence of Leschetizky, to whom Paderewski dedicated the work, the first performance was conducted by no less than Hans Richter, possibly the most influential European conductor of the day, and had ‘an immediate success’.

To re-apply the words of Sir Thomas Beecham (who, incidentally, was coached by Moszkowski in orchestration), these two Concertos have a ‘refinement and distinction that never fails to fall fragrantly on the ear, and offers to the musical amateur, who may feel at times that the evolution of his art is becoming a little too much for either his understanding or enjoyment, a soothing retreat where he may effectively rally his shattered forces.’

Jeremy Nicholas © 1991

'Performances of exceptional poetry and virtuosity and the recording is first class. Strongly recommended' (The Good CD Guide)

'Played with this degree of flair and passion it's all one can do to keep one's hands off the repeat button' (Piano International)

'Outstandingly performed and recorded ... An absolute winner. I can't wait for the new items in the series' (CDReview)

'Unassailable technical qualifications, state of the art sound and a first-rate orchestra' (Fanfare, USA)

Recording details: June 1991; City Halls, Candleriggs, Glasgow, United Kingdom; Produced by Martin Compton; Engineered by Tony Faulkner; Release date: October 1991;

Zobacz także:

  • CDA 68240
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  • NIFCCD 634
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  • NIFCCD 061
  • HC 18049