Moritz Moszkowski's First Piano Concerto was given an auspicious world premiere in Berlin in 1875. A year later, the composer played it in Weimar in an arrangement for two pianos with Franz Liszt taking the second piano part. Thereafter however, Moszkowski made little effort to get the work published, and it remained completely forgotten until a musicologist discovered the manuscript a few years ago in the Bibliothèque Nationale [de France].
Moszkowski's disparaging assessment of the Concerto as 'worthless' is certainly wide of the mark. Indeed, this ambitious work, laid out in four movements and even exceeding Brahm's Second Piano Concerto in duration, is brimful of attractive melodic ideas and resourceful orchestration. Stylistically, it might not be particularly original, drawing much inspiration from Schumann, Liszt and Chopin. But the music is alswars engaging, and even the extended Finale sustains one's interest.
It's entirely appropriate that this finely balanced first recording should be by the Bulgarian pianist and conductor that ave its first modern performance in Warsaw in 2014. Certainly, Ludmil Angelov dispatches the hugely taxing piano part with consummate virtuosity and the orchestra respond with alert and strongly characterised playing under Vladimir Kirjadev both in this score and Adolf Schulz-Evler's rather frothy Russian Rhapsody.
Alltogether, this is a very welcome addition to Hyperion's invaluable Romantic Piano Concerto series.