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Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Ignaz Moscheles - Piano Concertos Nos. 2 & 3; Anticipations of Scotland (Howard Shelley)


Composer: Ignaz Moscheles
  1. Piano Concerto No. 2 in E flat major, Op. 56: I. Allegro moderato
  2. Piano Concerto No. 2 in E flat major, Op. 56: II. Adagio
  3. Piano Concerto No. 2 in E flat major, Op. 56: III. Allegretto. tempo di polacca
  4. Piano Concerto No. 3 in G minor, Op. 58: I. Allegro moderato
  5. Piano Concerto No. 3 in G minor, Op. 58: II. Adagio
  6. Piano Concerto No. 3 in G minor, Op. 58: III. Allegro agitato
  7. Anticipations of Scotland "A grand fantasia", Op. 75: I. Introduction. Adagio ma non troppo -
  8. Anticipations of Scotland "A grand fantasia", Op. 75: II. Kelvin Grove. Andantino con moto -
  9. Anticipations of Scotland "A grand fantasia", Op. 75: III. Auld Robin Gray. Adagio espressivo -
  10. Anticipations of Scotland "A grand fantasia", Op. 75: IV. Lord Moira's Strathspey. Allegro moderato -
  11. Anticipations of Scotland "A grand fantasia", Op. 75: V. Finale. Allegro vivace

Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra
Howard Shelley, piano & conductor

Date: 2002
Label: Hyperion



In March 2000‚ I lamented the lack of outstanding recordings of Moscheles’ music and suggested a golden opportunity for Hyperion’s Romantic Piano Concerto series. My prayer is answered by Howard Shelley who‚ in his triple role of pianist‚ conductor and producer‚ offers yet another disc of aristocratic brilliance and distinction.

In the words of Harold Schonberg‚ Moscheles may have ‘practised his piano and watched the world go by’‚ but his outward calm masked a fierce desire to excel‚ and I can easily imagine a wry look from Shelley at the mention of such geniality. ‘Try playing him‚’ you almost hear him exclaim‚ ‘and see whether you still think him genial!’ Certainly both the Second and Third Concertos bristle with enough savage jumps and hurdles to throw a less than first class performer; woe betide the pianist without flawless scales and arpeggios (often twisting into awkward and unpredictable patterns). Moscheles’ contemporaries‚ hungry for heart­stopping acrobatics‚ surely left the concert hall thrilled and gratified. But there are also many fascinating purely musical surprises. The Polonaise which ends the Second Concerto may be fashionable rather than proudly nationalistic but there is a startlingly dramatic turn at the close of the Third Concerto’s Adagio‚ a prophecy of the rhetorical recitatives at the heart of the Larghetto from Chopin’s F minor Concerto which followed three years later.

Finally‚ and most engagingly‚ Moscheles was highly responsive to local colour‚ paying tribute to his adopted city of London in his Fourth Concerto by quoting the ‘March of the Grenadiers’ and‚ in his Anticipations of Scotland: A Grand Fantasia‚ to folk songs and dances north of the border. Who can resist the assurance of ‘Auld Robin Grey’ (though even he breaks out into a flash of virtuosity) or a strathspey sufficiently perky to set all true Scotsmen’s blood tingling. The recordings‚ made in Tasmania‚ are excellent‚ the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra enter into the spirit of things with verve and affection‚ and Nicholas Temperley’s scholarly essay is an added bonus. Curiosity concerning Lord Moira (1754­1826 – as in ‘Lord Moira’s Strathspey’) is certainly satisfied when we learn that he was a popular commander­in­chief in Scotland and later Governer­General of India.
Hyperion’s immaculate presentation includes a photograph of the frontispiece for Anticipations of Scotland and there are several fine portraits of both Moscheles and Howard Shelley. What good news that more Moscheles is promised from this source.

-- Gramophone

More reviews:
BBC Music Magazine  PERFORMANCE: **** / SOUND: ****


Ignaz Moscheles (23 May 1794 – 10 March 1870) was a Bohemian composer and piano virtuoso. His career in his early years was based initially in London, and later at Leipzig, where he joined his friend and sometime pupil Felix Mendelssohn as Professor of Piano at the Conservatoire. Among his 142 opus numbers, Moscheles wrote an overture, a ballet, a symphony and eight piano concertos. Moscheles also left several chamber works and a large number of works for piano solo, including sonatas and the études that continued to be studied by advanced students even as Moscheles's music fell into eclipse.


Howard Shelley (born 9 March 1950) is a British pianist and conductor. He was educated at Highgate School and the Royal College of Music. As pianist he has performed, broadcast and recorded around the world with leading orchestras and conductors. He made many recordings for Chandos, Hyperion and EMI, including Rachmaninov's complete piano music and concertos. As a conductor, he has held positions of Associate and Principal Guest Conductor with the London Mozart Players in a close relationship of over twenty years. He has appeared regularly on television and on the soundtrack of several films.


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