|SCHUMANN: Kinderszenen, Op. 15. BRAHMS:
Variations and Fugue on a Theme by Handel, Op. 24. Intermezzo
in C, Op. 119 No. 3. Rhapsody in E Flat, Op. 119 No. 4. MUSSORGSKY:
Pictures at an Exhibition.
Benno Moiseiwitsch, pianist
NAXOS 8.110668 (B) (ADD) TT: 77:11
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HUMMEL: Rondo in E Flat, Op. 11. BEETHOVEN:
Andante favori. WEBER-TAUSIG: Rondo Brillante (Invitation to the
Dance). SCHUMANN: Grillen. Romance No. 2. Vogel als
prophet. MENDELSSOHN: Scherzo in E Minor, Op. 16 No. 2.
Songs without Words Nos. 3 and 22. HENSELT: Etude
caractéristique, Op. 2 No. 6. LISZT: Concert Etude No. 2 in F
Minor. Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2. Liebesträume No. 3.
WAGNER-LISZT: Isolde's Liebestod. Tannhäuser Overture.
TCHAIKOVSKY: Piano Concerto No. 1 in B flat minor, Op. 23.
Piano Concerto No. 2 in G Major, Op. 44.
The first two CDs contain a wide range of solo works highlighted by a dazzling account of Liszt's F Minor Concert Etude and the Liszt transcription of Wagner's Tannhäuser Overture. All recording dates are given, indicating that the latter was recorded during three sessions ranging from January 28 through March 24, 1938; several other works also were done over extended sessions. It seems strange that neither of these CDs contains one of Moiseiwitsch's finest recordings, the Rachmaninoff transcription of the Scherzo from Mendelssohn's A Midsummer Night's Dream. This recording was made in one take as an afterthought after a session March 17, 1939and is surely among the finest piano recordings ever made.
The third CD couples Tchaikovsky's first two concertos, both conducted by George Weldon with the newly-formed Philharmonia Orchestra for the First, the London Philharmonic for the Second, although the latter recording was to have been conducted by Malcolm Sargent, who at one time studied piano with Moiseiwitsch. The Concerto No. 2 (on the label incorrectly identified as being in "G minor") was recorded in two sessions, August 29, 1944 and October 19, 1944. The abbreviated Siloti edition is used (as was the custom of the time), so the second movement takes but 7:19.This interpretation of Tchaikovsky's Concerto No. 1 took nine 78rpm sides instead of the usual eight; the same composer's Chanson triste, also included on this CD, was the filler. Moiseiwitsch's somewhat staid approach underplays the virtuoso aspects of the first concerto, he makes a few additions to the scoreand technically is not as his best. He is far more successful in the second concerto, a work he championed in the '40s, but you won't find the fireworks heard in the famous Emil Gilels live Leningrad performance.
Marston's transfers are, as usual, magnificent, and the price is low. Naxos is to be commended for their high quality production of these CDs: Volume I has separate tracks not only for each movement of Kinderszenen and Pictures but tracks as well for each of the Brahms variations, for a total of 57 tracks. I look forward to future releases in the series, one of which will include Moiseiwitsch's first recordings of Rachmaninoff's Concerto No. 2 and Paganini Rhapsody, and the Concerto No. 1.
R.E.B. (Feb. 2002)