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Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Ignaz Moscheles - Piano Concertos Nos. 4 & 5; Recollections of Ireland (Howard Shelley)


Composer: Ignaz Moscheles
  1. Piano Concerto No. 4 in E major, Op. 64: 1. Allegro maestoso
  2. Piano Concerto No. 4 in E major, Op. 64: 2. Adagio
  3. Piano Concerto No. 4 in E major, Op. 64: 3. Rondo. Allegretto - Tempo di marcia
  4. Piano Concerto No. 5 in C major, Op. 87: 1. Allegro moderato
  5. Piano Concerto No. 5 in C major, Op. 87: 2. Adagio non troppo
  6. Piano Concerto No. 5 in C major, Op. 87: 3, Allegro vivace
  7. Recollections of Ireland, Op. 69: 1. Fantasia. Allegro moderato
  8. Recollections of Ireland, Op. 69: 2. The Groves of Blarney. Andante sostenuto espressivo
  9. Recollections of Ireland, Op. 69: 3. Garry Owen. Allegro
  10. Recollections of Ireland, Op. 69: 4. St Patrick's Day

Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra
Howard Shelley, piano & conductor

Date: 2005
Label: Hyperion



An exhilarating roller-coaster ride atop glorious music brilliantly played

With these two life-affirming concertos from 1823 and 1826/32 respectively, and Hyperion’s two earlier volumes (10/03, 2/04), we are now able to hear for the first time all Moscheles’ extant works in this form. Mozart, Beethoven, Hummel and prescient Chopin all contribute to the distinctive voice of this once-revered composer. 

You have to hand it to Howard Shelley. It’s one thing to lead a concerto from the keyboard but to do this when the solo part is so demanding and with such insouciance is quite another thing. The outer movements of the two concertos are relentless – thirds, repeated notes, wide leaps, arpeggios, rapid scales and the like. Shelley executes them with the grace of a gazelle and an invigorating rhythmic precision. If, at times, the writing threatens to descend into a parade of technical exercises, Shelley and his crisp, stylish Tasmanians elevate it into an exhilarating roller-coaster ride of seamless and often unexpected invention. The last movement of the E major Concerto is a brilliant rondo treatment of The British Grenadiers. If it doesn’t leave you wreathed in smiles then, really, there’s no hope for you. 

In place of Moscheles’ final, Eighth Concerto (no one has been able to track down its orchestral parts) comes the fantasy on Irish airs, a delightfully batty period confection from 1826. The last rose of summer, Garry Owen and St Patrick’s Day all take a turn, the last two treated contrapuntally. 

Completed by Henry Roche’s trenchant and engaging booklet notes, this is an issue which I cannot praise too highly. Let us hope that by the time you read this, Hyperion’s legal battle will be over to ensure that music lovers the world over can continue to benefit from the unique recorded legacy enshrined on this label.

-- Jeremy Nicholas, 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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