GRIEG; MOSZKOWSKI Piano Concertos
Whatever scintillates and delights is here in super-abandance. For brilliant pianist (and later spin-master for Benjamin Netanyahu) David Bar-Illan, the Moszkowski Concerto is ‘first and foremost an orgy of pianism, an intoxication of what the instrument can do, a celebration of sound, sparkle and speed. Its the kind of assault on the senses experienced at a fantastic firework display. Plus a little pulling at the heart-strings. Profound? No. Thrilling? Yes.’
This is admirably put, though neither Bar-Illan’s recording nor any other (Piers Lane and Michael Ponti) come within distance of Joseph Moog’s. From Moog everything sparks and thunders. A virtuoso to the manner born, notes stream from his fingers like cascading diamonds, his playing alive with what David Fanning so wittily called ‘the boggle factor’. Hear him leap, released, like a greyhound straining in the slips, from the Andante’s dreams into the Scherzo vivace, though with ample time in the former to relish the more serious side of Moszkowski’s ebullient nature (for this, try the deeply expressive second étude from Op 24, memorably recorded by Seta Tanyel – Hyperion, 12/96, A/02). Again, hear him once more frolicking through vaudeville tunes in the finale. At 7'05", as the concerto approaches its grandiloquent close, you will witness a heart-stopping bravura of a sort rarely encountered.
After this, the evergreen Grieg Concerto comes as something of a makeweight. But Moog’s engulfing command is complemented by poise and reflection (the first-movement cadenza and first entry in the central Adagio). His sprint to the finale’s finish could hardly be more joyous or exhilarating. This is entirely a young pianist’s view, though in truth Lipatti was only two years older than 28-year-old Moog when he made his famously regal recording. Moog’s performance is greeted with a storm of cheers, wolf-whistles and all. Clearly he is already among the most brilliant of pianists; and in the Moszkowski his orchestra and conductor let their hair down and relish every bar of this delectable fin-de-siècle virtuoso fling.