Hyperion Records

Ballade in G minor, Op 16 No 1
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The Ballade in G minor for violin and orchestra Op 16 No 1 was originally composed for violin and piano during the early 1870s (it was published with a companion piece, a Bolero Op 16 No 2). Subsequently Moszkowski orchestrated the Ballade (but not the Bolero), and as such it would appear to be his earliest surviving orchestral work (the famous Spanish Dances Op 12 appeared earlier, but were in fact orchestrated by Philipp Scharwenka and Valentin Frank, the original version being for piano duet). The Ballade was dedicated to Gustav Hille (born 1851), a German violinist and minor composer who was one of Moszkowski’s fellow students at Kullak’s Academy, and although intended as a virtuoso display vehicle it also reflects Moszkowski’s natural gift for melody.

The opening is marked Andante con moto, and the orchestra sets the scene with a brief introduction before accompanying the soloist who enters with a lilting theme, the basic rhythmic make-up of which is used extensively throughout. A short quasi-cadenza then leads directly into the second part—Tempo animato (quasi allegro)—where the tension is gradually built up with increasing momentum as the work heads towards its main fortissimo climax. The short coda then fades away to a molto tranquillo conclusion. It is interesting to note that there are several differences from the original violin and piano version, where Moszkowski had written a completely different bravura ending, perhaps more suitable for the salon work as it was originally conceived. Later editions show that he had second thoughts about this, bringing the piano reduction into line with the orchestral score. Overall, the Ballade is typical of Moszkowski’s affable and eclectic style, and although it is to some extent limited in its emotional range it provides more than enough interest and enjoyment for the listener with its contrasts in texture and colourful orchestration.

from notes by Martin Eastick © 2004

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