Moscheles: Piano Concerto No. 2; Piano Concerto No. 3; Anticipations of Scotland: A Grand Fantasia

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COMPOSERS: Moscheles
LABELS: Hyperion
WORKS: Piano Concerto No. 2; Piano Concerto No. 3; Anticipations of Scotland: A Grand Fantasia
PERFORMER: Tasmanian SO/Howard Shelley (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: CDA 67276
A friend of Mendelssohn, and a Classicist who resisted the innovations of Chopin and Liszt, the pianist-composer Ignaz Moscheles was far from stale or unadventurous. A brief taste of the opening of the Second Piano Concerto shows how fresh and imaginative he could be within the limits of a post-Mozartian style, even if you can’t hear the timpani figures mentioned in Nicholas Temperley’s notes. If there are few dramatic, Beethovenian surprises in either this or the Third Concerto, Moscheles knows how to tease the ear enough to hold the attention. Unlike, say, Paganini in his violin concertos, he doesn’t rely on virtuoso tinsel – though there’s plenty of that too, and Shelley makes sure that it glitters appropriately. By contrast, Anticipations of Scotland is a loosely strung together suite of folksy airs and dances, which for all its easy charm is unlikely to prove as repeatable as the concertos. Howard Shelley takes it every bit as seriously – perhaps a slightly higher-camp approach might have given it more surface appeal. The concertos do emerge well though, and the recordings give a pleasing piano-orchestra balance. Stephen Johnson

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