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Second Modern Suite, Op 14

'MacDowell: Piano Concertos' (CDA67165)
MacDowell: Piano Concertos
Buy by post £10.50 CDA67165 
Movement 1: Praeludium – Andante maestoso
Movement 2: Fugato
Movement 3: Rhapsodie
Movement 4: Scherzino
Movement 5: Marsch
movement 6: Phantasie – Tanz

Second Modern Suite, Op 14
With Liszt’s active recommendation and encouragement, MacDowell saw his first compositions published—the First Modern Suite, Op 10, dedicated to Mrs Joachim Raff, appeared in 1882. Much of the Second Suite was composed in railway carriages while MacDowell was travelling between Frankfurt and Darmstadt in order to give lessons, occasionally venturing on to Erbach-Furstenau. MacDowell, who himself wrote much poetry, was much influenced by the English and German Romantics of the day and the score of the Second Modern Suite is headed by a quotation from Byron’s Manfred:

By a power to thee unknown
Thou canst never be alone;
Thou art wrapt as with a shroud
Thou art gather’d in a cloud
And forever shalt thou dwell
In the spirit of this spell.

There is little in these six movements that reveals an unmistakable and individual voice—the music is too run-through with references to the masters whose music MacDowell had studied assiduously—but the themes are so attractive, the writing for the instrument so completely masterful that the Suite can easily worm its way into one’s affections. The ‘Zweite moderne Suite’ is thoroughly Teutonic from the separate titles of its movements to their musical language—the arresting ‘Fugato’ and its clear nod to Raff (who always saw fit to include a fugue in his own suites), the ‘Rhapsodie’ with its echoes of early Brahms, and the Schumannesque ‘Scherzino’, ‘March’ (Raff also liked to have a march somewhere) and ‘Phantasie-Tanz’.

Teresa Carreño gave the American premiere in New York (8 March 1884) and toured three movements (which three?) of it in the following year.

from notes by Jeremy Nicholas © 2001

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Details for CDA67165 track 9
Phantasie – Tanz
Recording date
17 December 2000
Recording venue
Caird Hall, Dundee, Scotland
Recording producer
Recording engineer
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  1. MacDowell: Piano Concertos (CDA67165)
    Disc 1 Track 9
    Release date: March 2001
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