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Divergences / Joseph Moog

Jongen / Moog
Release Date: 08/10/2010 
Label:  Claves   Catalog #: 1005   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Joseph JongenAlexander ScriabinMax Reger
Performer:  Joseph Moog
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 9 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

For his solo-debut CD release, 21-year-old pianist Joseph Moog offers an unusual and stunningly executed program. It opens with three Joseph Jongen works that might strike the casual listener as early Scriabin knock-offs endorsed by Ravel, yet their craftsmanship and idiomatic flair hold considerable interest. So do the delightfully varied character pieces that make up Reger's Träume am Kamin cycle.

It's a shame that Reger's reputation for humongous variation sets and Crisco-thick fugues overshadows his more emotionally authentic piano miniatures, which count among the repertoire's most undervalued gems. Op. 143's second and seventh pieces easily hold their own alongside the
Read more darkest of Brahms' late Intermezzi. By contrast, the Humoreske (No. 10) is a marvelously concise, witty, and harmonically surprising piece that might be described as a link between Grieg's Lyric Pieces and Prokofiev's Visions Fugitives. Moog's polished and colorful interpretations are frequently faster and more supple than Markus Becker's generally broader and more heavily textured readings on Thorofon.

The Scriabin selections abound with rhythmic verve and tonal nuance. Note the scampering precision and stinging accents of the Fourth sonata's Prestissimo volando, or the nervous energy and focused trills in the Seventh (Volodos' recent live Vienna recording, however, conveys more appropriate mystery in softer passages). The shorter pieces also stand out for the intensity with which Moog shapes the melodic lines in exact accordance with the composer's dynamic indications. A highly distinctive debut on all levels, not to mention Claves' superb engineering.

--Jed Distler, ClassicsToday.com


SCRIABIN Piano Sonatas: No. 4; No. 7. Quasi valse. Feuillet d’album. 2 Dances, op. 73. JONGEN Concert Etude No. 1. 2 Pieces for Piano, op. 33. REGER Träume am Kamin Joseph Moog (pn) CLAVES 50-1005 (69: 01)

Even without the background in the interview above, it’s obvious that Joseph Moog has a special affinity for Scriabin. This disc surveys his music from his early middle period to his final years, and whether in the ambiguities of Quasi Valse or the feathery touch in the Prestissimo volando second movement of the Fourth Sonata, or in the clarity of voicing and interplay of colors in his dash through the Seventh, Moog displays a sure sense of Scriabin’s developing idiom. More important, he manages to provide clarity and detail in even the most intricate passages without sacrificing the rhapsodic striving that’s central to the music. Especially for a pianist barely out of his teens, this is Scriabin of remarkable authority.

That said, for many listeners, the disc—sporting the general title Divergences —may be even more welcome for its rarer repertoire. The Reger—12 miniatures written just before he died—is a set with unexpected variety of mood and idiom. There’s a lot of Brahms here—but you might also hear a slight nod to Scriabin (say, in the sixth piece), a sideways glance at Liszt’s La Lugubre gondola , a sardonic sneer at Rubinstein’s famous Melody. And while you probably don’t think of Reger as a purveyor of humor, the way the feet get mixed up in the gavotte-like fourth piece should make you smile. Träume am Kamin is less rigorously intellectual than Reger’s more familiar works (for instance, the Variations and Fugue on a Theme by Bach)—but, in its subtle harmonic and formal tricks, it’s a lot more sophisticated than, say, Schumann’s Kinderszenen , to which it makes sly references (even the title, as Etienne Barilier’s excellent notes point out, evokes Träumerai and Am Kamin , which sit next to each other at the center of Kinderszenen ). Moog’s performance, gracious and sweet in phrasing, makes a strong case for the music’s erudite charms.

As for the Jongen: It’s hard to understand why this music is so rarely encountered. Granted, Jongen doesn’t hide his influences: The repeated F?s in Clair de lune (the first in the op. 33 diptych) take their cue (as Barilier also mentions in his notes) from the tolling of Ravel’s Gibet ; its counterweight, Soleil à midi , has a kinship to the special kind of ecstatic striving heard in Franck. But the music can’t be called simply derivative—among other things, Jongen manages to avoid the thickness that usually characterizes Franck’s efforts. That’s especially true in these dazzling performances, which are so brilliantly articulated and so sure in their sweep that there’s no trace of clutter. Add to this the immediate sound and the excellent notes, and you have a first-class release.

FANFARE: Peter J. Rabinowitz
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Works on This Recording

Premičre Etude de Concert, Op. 65 no 1 by Joseph Jongen
Performer:  Joseph Moog (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1920-1928; Belgium 
Venue:  Philharmonie, Ludwigshafen, Germany 
Length: 4 Minutes 46 Secs. 
Pieces (2) for Piano, Op. 33 by Joseph Jongen
Performer:  Joseph Moog (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1908; Belgium 
Venue:  Philharmonie, Ludwigshafen, Germany 
Length: 11 Minutes 46 Secs. 
Sonata for Piano no 4 in F sharp major, Op. 30 by Alexander Scriabin
Performer:  Joseph Moog (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1903; Russia 
Venue:  Philharmonie, Ludwigshafen, Germany 
Length: 6 Minutes 46 Secs. 
Quasi valse for Piano in F major, Op. 47 by Alexander Scriabin
Performer:  Joseph Moog (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1905; Russia 
Venue:  Philharmonie, Ludwigshafen, Germany 
Length: 1 Minutes 8 Secs. 
Feuillet d'album, Op. 58 by Alexander Scriabin
Performer:  Joseph Moog (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1910; Russia 
Venue:  Philharmonie, Ludwigshafen, Germany 
Length: 1 Minutes 27 Secs. 
Sonata for Piano no 7 in F sharp major, Op. 64 "White Mass" by Alexander Scriabin
Performer:  Joseph Moog (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1911; Russia 
Venue:  Philharmonie, Ludwigshafen, Germany 
Length: 10 Minutes 31 Secs. 
Dances (2) for Piano, Op. 73 by Alexander Scriabin
Performer:  Joseph Moog (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1914; Russia 
Venue:  Philharmonie, Ludwigshafen, Germany 
Length: 4 Minutes 1 Secs. 
Little Pieces (12) for Piano, Op. 143 "Träume am Kamin" by Max Reger
Performer:  Joseph Moog (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1915; Germany 
Venue:  Philharmonie, Ludwigshafen, Germany 
Length: 25 Minutes 0 Secs. 

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