Hyperion Records

Moscheles, Ignaz (1794-1870)  

Ignaz Moscheles

born: 23 May 1794
died: 10 March 1870
country: Germany

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Ignaz Moscheles (1794–1870) was a cosmopolitan virtuoso whose long career spanned the greatest period in the development of the piano, from Beethoven to Liszt. In this development he played an important part, which is now slowly coming to be appreciated after a long period of neglect.

Stemming from the German-speaking Jewish community of Prague, he emerged as a new star at the age of fourteen, when he played a piano concerto of his own in public. Soon he embarked on a career as a freelance musician in Vienna. In a short time he became well known throughout Europe. In 1821 he paid his first visit to London, which became his home for more than twenty years. In 1846 Mendelssohn, his intimate friend and colleague, appointed him the principal teacher of piano at the recently formed Leipzig Conservatorium. There he passed on his knowledge and vast experience to a new generation.

Moscheles’s younger days were spent in an age when the piano was the ‘hot’ new instrument. Its role in society was comparable to that of sound recording in the later twentieth century. Every few years technological improvements were marketed by rival manufacturers, increasing the instrument’s pitch range, rapidity of execution, volume, and expressive powers. Every middle-class family wanted its children, especially daughters, to excel at this exciting instrument. The models (and often the teachers) for these young people were the glamorous virtuosi of the concert platform, who also grew in numbers and in the intensity of their rivalry. Their main vehicles for public performance were the concerto and the single-movement work for piano and orchestra. (Sonatas and other solo pieces were rarely included in concert programmes before the 1830s; the first full-length solo recital was given by Liszt in 1840.)

Under these circumstances it is not surprising that the piano concerto became more and more of a showpiece, each one striving to surpass its predecessors in brilliance and apparent difficulty. Though the classical framework established by Mozart was still there, certain parts of it were expanded and overloaded far beyond the bounds of classical restraint. In particular, the first movement always contained two long drives towards a climactic cadence, one in the dominant or other complementary key, the other in the home key (tonic). In these sections the soloist led the orchestra in a stampede of spectacular technical display to the predictable climax, ending on a series of trills; the orchestra then hailed the triumphant hero in a loud and brilliant affirmation of the established key. The second of these concluded the movement. The finale, generally a rondo, contained similar passages and further opportunities to make the audience gasp. Other parts of the concerto, including the middle (slow) movement, displayed contrasting facets of both the instrument and the composer/performer, often showing the piano’s potential for lyrical expression, and sometimes containing witty exchanges between piano and orchestra.

Among the many famous virtuosi of the 1820s—Hummel, Kalkbrenner, Cramer, Herz and Weber were his most famous rivals—Moscheles stands out for two features: classicism and originality. These qualities might seem to be opposites; but the ‘classical’ concertos of Mozart and Beethoven are full of surprise, intellectual challenge, and emotional depth that were all too often lost in the cascades of virtuosity that overwhelmed their successors. Moscheles, brought up on the works of Mozart and Clementi, never wholly abandoned these qualities. Even his seemingly mechanical passagework often uses unfamiliar patterns of figuration.

from notes by Nicholas Temperley © 2002

Albums
'Moscheles & Hummel: Cello Sonatas' (CDA67521)
Moscheles & Hummel: Cello Sonatas
Buy by post £10.50 CDA67521  Studio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available
'Moscheles: Complete Concert Studies' (CDH55387)
Moscheles: Complete Concert Studies
Buy by post £5.50 CDH55387  Helios (Hyperion's budget label)  
'Moscheles: Piano Concertos Nos 1, 6 & 7' (CDA67385)
Moscheles: Piano Concertos Nos 1, 6 & 7
Buy by post £10.50 CDA67385 
'Moscheles: Piano Concertos Nos 2 & 3' (CDA67276)
Moscheles: Piano Concertos Nos 2 & 3
Buy by post £10.50 CDA67276 
'Moscheles: Piano Concertos Nos 4 & 5' (CDA67430)
Moscheles: Piano Concertos Nos 4 & 5
Buy by post £10.50 CDA67430 
'Hummel & Moscheles: Cello Sonatas' (CDA67521)
Hummel & Moscheles: Cello Sonatas
Buy by post £10.50 CDA67521  Studio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available
On other labels
'A Matthay Miscellany: Rare and unissued recordings' (APR6014)
A Matthay Miscellany: Rare and unissued recordings
APR6014  2CDs for the price of 1 June 2014 Release  
'York Bowen – The complete solo 78-rpm recordings' (APR6007)
York Bowen – The complete solo 78-rpm recordings
Buy by post £10.50 APR6007  2CDs for the price of 1  
Alphabetical listing of all musical works
A Children's Tale 'Ein Kindermärchen'  No 5 of Characteristic Studies, Op 95 (Moscheles)
A Dream 'Der Traum'  No 11a of Characteristic Studies, Op 95 (Moscheles)
Affection 'Zärtlichkeit'  No 7 of Characteristic Studies, Op 95 (Moscheles)
Anticipations of Scotland 'A grand fantasia', Op 75 (Moscheles)
Auld Robin Gray: Adagio espressivo  Movement 3 of Anticipations of Scotland 'A grand fantasia', Op 75 (Moscheles)
Bacchanale  No 6 of Characteristic Studies, Op 95 (Moscheles)
Carnival Scenes 'Alla Napolitana' 'Volksfest-Scenen'  No 8a of Characteristic Studies, Op 95 (Moscheles)
Cello Sonata in E major, Op 121 (Moscheles)
Characteristic Studies, Op 95 (Moscheles)
Contradiction 'Der Widerspruch'  No 3 of Characteristic Studies, Op 95 (Moscheles)
Deux Études, Op 105 (Moscheles)
Deux Études, Op 98 (Moscheles)
Grande Étude de Concert, Op 126 (Moscheles)
Juno  No 4a of Characteristic Studies, Op 95 (Moscheles)
Kelvin Grove: Andantino con moto  Movement 2 of Anticipations of Scotland 'A grand fantasia', Op 75 (Moscheles)
La Fougue  No 4 of Quatre Grandes Études de Concert, Op 111 (Moscheles)
L'Ambition  No 2 of Deux Études, Op 98 (Moscheles)
Le Carrillon  No 2 of Quatre Grandes Études de Concert, Op 111 (Moscheles)
L'Enjouement  No 1 of Deux Études, Op 98 (Moscheles)
Lord Moira's Strathspey: Allegro moderato  Movement 4 of Anticipations of Scotland 'A grand fantasia', Op 75 (Moscheles)
Melodisch-contrapunktische Studien, Op 137 (Bach/Moscheles)
Moonlight on the Sea-Shore 'Die Mondnacht am See-Gestade'  No 9a of Characteristic Studies, Op 95 (Moscheles)
Piano Concerto No 1 in F major, Op 45 (Moscheles)
Piano Concerto No 2 in E flat major, Op 56 (Moscheles)
Piano Concerto No 3 in G minor, Op 58 (Moscheles)
Piano Concerto No 4 in E major, Op 64 (Moscheles)
Piano Concerto No 5 in C major, Op 87 (Moscheles)
Piano Concerto No 6 in B flat major 'Fantastique', Op 90 (Moscheles)
Piano Concerto No 7 in C minor 'Pathétique', Op 93 (Moscheles)
Quatre Grandes Études de Concert, Op 111 (Moscheles)
Recollections of Ireland, Op 69 (Moscheles)
Reconciliation 'Versöhnung'  No 2 of Characteristic Studies, Op 95 (Moscheles)
Rêverie et Allégresse  No 1 of Quatre Grandes Études de Concert, Op 111 (Moscheles)
Tendresse et Exaltation  No 3 of Quatre Grandes Études de Concert, Op 111 (Moscheles)
Terpsichore  No 10 of Characteristic Studies, Op 95 (Moscheles)
Terror 'Die Angst'  No 12 of Characteristic Studies, Op 95 (Moscheles)
Twenty-Four Etudes, Op 70 (Moscheles)
Wrath 'Der Zorn'  No 1 of Characteristic Studies, Op 95 (Moscheles)
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