Wednesday, 24 May 2017

CD Review (The Straits Times, May 2017)

MOSZKOWSKI Piano Concerto in B minor
SCHULZ-EVLER Russian Rhapsody
BBC Scottish Symphony  
Vladimir Kiradjiev (Conductor)
Hyperion 68109 / ****1/2

For almost 140 years, it was thought that Polish pianist-composer Moritz Moszkowski (1854-1925) composed only one piano concerto, the popular showpiece in E major. Now it has a companion, the impressive B minor concerto composed in 1874. With four movements and playing for 54 minutes, it was for a time the world's longest piano concerto, outlasting even Brahms' Second Concerto.

Dedicated to Franz Liszt and premiered in 1875 (Berlin), it was rediscovered in 2008 (Paris) and heard again in 2014 (Warsaw).  It opens with strains of seriousness and foreboding, but gradually relents as Moszkowski's penchant for charm and congeniality takes over. For a teenaged composer, there are pages of over-statement but it makes up with confidence, exuberance and scintillating playing.

Bulgarian pianist Ludmil Angelov, who reintroduced the work to modern audiences, gives a totally convincing premiere recording that should win it new friends. He does the same for the Russian Rhapsody by Adolf Schulz-Evler, composer of the notorious finger-buster Arabesques On The Beautiful Blue Danube. For those tired of the umpteenth Rachmaninov piano concerto recording, here are the much needed tonics.   

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