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Hyperion Records

CDH55143 - Moszkowski: Piano Music, Vol. 3
CDH55143
(Originally issued on Collins15192)

Recording details: January 1998
St George's, Brandon Hill, United Kingdom
Produced by John H West
Engineered by John Timperley
Release date: February 2003
Total duration: 62 minutes 20 seconds

'Once again [Tanyel's] performances are of the most engaging insouciance and dexterity' (Gramophone)

Piano Music, Vol. 3
Élégie  [3'36]
Sur l'Eau  [4'08]
Vieux Pastel  [2'45]
Canon  [2'08]
Feuillet d'Album  [2'42]
Gavotte  [3'42]
Scherzo-Étude  [2'58]
Complainte  [4'35]
Offrande  [3'04]
Impromptu  [2'43]
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Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
Moritz Moszkowski was born in 1854 in Wroclaw, Poland (then Breslau, the capital of Silesia in East Prussia), into a wealthy Jewish family. In 1865 the family moved to Dresden where Moszkowski, having shown early musical talent at home, was accepted at the conservatory. His first attempts at composition date from this time and he produced a piano quintet at the age of only thirteen. Moving to Berlin in 1869, he continued his studies firstly at Julius Stern’s Conservatory under Eduard Frank (piano) and Friedrich Kiel (composition), and finally at Theodor Kullak’s Neue Akademie der Tonkunst where the Scharwenka brothers, Xaver and Philipp, were among his fellow students. All three later joined Kullak’s teaching staff, with Moszkowski retaining his post for over twenty-five years.

It was in Berlin in 1873 that Moszkowski made his successful debut as a pianist and he was soon touring, quickly acquiring a reputation as a first-rate performer, both as a brilliant virtuoso and for his interpretations of classical repertoire. In 1875 he and Philipp Scharwenka arranged an orchestral concert in Berlin in which Moszkowski was the soloist in a piano concerto of his own. None other than Franz Liszt was quick to endorse the work, subsequently arranging a matinee before an invited audience when he accompanied the young composer on a second piano. (This concerto was never published and unfortunately the manuscript has since disappeared; the E major concerto published as Op 59 in 1898 was composed much later.) At about this time, Moszkowski’s first published works appeared; his first set of Spanish Dances for piano duet (Op 12, later orchestrated by Philipp Scharwenka) became immensely popular and assured his fame well into the present century when his other music had been all but forgotten. Moszkowski was also a competent violinist and, according to the American Amy Fay in her book Music Study in Germany, he was often to be found playing first violin in the Academy orchestra. He also composed an excellent violin concerto, long overdue for revival.

During the 1880s Moszkowski began to suffer from a nervous disorder which severely restricted his activities as a travelling virtuoso, and instead he concentrated more on composition and also began to gain recognition as a conductor. It was in this capacity that he made several visits to London at the invitation of the Philharmonic Society, introducing some of his orchestral works; he finally made his debut there as a pianist on 12 May 1898, with the English premiere of the E major concerto.

In 1897 he moved permanently to Paris, having married the sister of Cécile Chaminade. He was by this time considerably wealthy, mainly due to the great popularity of his music. He was highly sought-after as a teacher and, whilst he could afford to be selective, was always more than generous in helping aspiring young musicians. In 1904 it was a young Thomas Beecham who went to Moszkowski for lessons in orchestration on the recommendation of André Messager, and his many piano pupils included Josef Hofmann and Wanda Landowska.

From around 1908, however, Moszkowski’s fortunes went into decline as he began to suffer from ill-health and had to cope with the tragic loss of his wife and daughter. Musical taste and opinion began to change as the new century progressed, and this new order held nothing for Moszkowski who remained firmly committed to the ideals and traditions of the nineteenth century. He became a recluse as his popularity faded, and his creative output virtually ceased with his loss of ambition and enthusiasm. His last few years were spent in poverty because he had invested his wealth in German, Polish and Russian securities which became worthless with the outbreak of war in 1914. He died in Paris on 4 March 1925.

Although he had some initial success with his orchestral works, and composed an opera Boabdil (1892) and ballet Laurin (1896), Moszkowski was renowned above all for his piano music, exclusively consisting of shorter works, character pieces, waltzes, mazurkas, studies etc.

The Fantaisie ‘Hommage à Schumann’ is one of the composer’s earliest surviving works, and although first published in the mid-1870s was probably composed a few years earlier, possibly while still a student. Of the several early influences in Moszkowski’s development, Schumann’s was perhaps the most important, and here the young composer acknowledges as much by writing in the form of a pastiche which quite cleverly imitates Schumann’s piano style.

The sparkling brilliance of the Scherzo-Valse reveals Moszkowski at his most typical. Dating from around 1887, it was dedicated to the famous Russian pianist, Annette Esipoff.

In the Barcarolle, Op 27 No 1, a mood of peaceful tranquillity is evoked by one of Moszkowski’s most beautiful melodies, which is then developed to an appassionato climax before finally dying away amidst a filigree of delicatissimo passage-work.

The Etude in C minor Op 67 No 2 is a bravura study in repeated notes, a favourite device of Moszkowski. An expansive theme provides contrast in the middle section; it first appears in the tenor register, but then takes over and builds up to an impressive fortissimo climax. (Both the Barcarolle and the Etude were published, each with a contrasting companion piece; the Tarantelle Op 27 No 2 and Poème de Mai Op 67 No 1 respectively; they are included in Seta Tanyel’s first CD of Moszkowski’s piano music on Helios CDH55141.)

The twelve pieces which comprise Opp 83, 86 and 87 all appeared between 1909 and 1911 and thus coincide with the beginning of Moszkowski’s decline in popularity. The music itself, however, provides some perfect examples of his later development and refinement of style, including the use of more chromatic and complex harmony. As one might expect, a slight French influence had gradually pervaded his music since his move to Paris in 1897. These shorter pieces represent Moszkowski as the superior salon composer, creating a variety of contrasting moods ranging from the simplistic charm of the Chanson Populaire or the poetically descriptive Sur l’Eau to the expressive melancholy in Complainte or Elégie and the emotionally intense Offrande.

Martin Eastick © 1998


Other albums in this series
'Moszkowski: Piano Music, Vol. 1' (CDH55141)
Moszkowski: Piano Music, Vol. 1
MP3 £4.99FLAC £4.99ALAC £4.99Buy by post £5.50 CDH55141  Helios (Hyperion's budget label)  
'Moszkowski: Piano Music, Vol. 2' (CDH55142)
Moszkowski: Piano Music, Vol. 2
MP3 £4.99FLAC £4.99ALAC £4.99Buy by post £5.50 CDH55142  Helios (Hyperion's budget label)  
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