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Piano Music By Mendelssohn, Moscheles & Schumann

Release Date: 07/13/2010 
Label:  Msr   Catalog #: 1338   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Ignaz MoschelesFranz LisztRobert SchumannFelix Mendelssohn
Performer:  Todd Crow
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 5 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

MOSCHELES Hommage Caractéristique à la Mémoire de Madame Malibran de Bériot. MENDELSSOHN 9 Songs (trans. Liszt). Piano Sonata in E, op. 6. SCHUMANN Variations on an Original Theme in E?, WoO 24 Todd Crow (pn) MSR 1338 (65:30)

This is Read more a wonderful selection of music representing the outpouring of mid 19th-century piano music of the Romantic period. None of it is heard very often, so Todd Crow deserves thanks for championing it.

Ignaz Moscheles (1794–1870) was among the first to initiate the new romantic style in piano music. Born in Prague, he came to Vienna in 1808 and quickly joined the Beethoven circle, preparing piano arrangements of many of Beethoven’s works, such as the opera Fidelio. He moved to London in 1825 and continued to correspond with Beethoven, eventually becoming involved with the translation and editing of Anton Schindler’s Life of Beethoven. The homage in memory of the famous singer Malibran typifies the romantic characteristics of piano music of the time: wide sweeps of the keyboard, soulful melody in the slow introduction, and brilliant, dramatic figuration in the fast parts. Like so many of the “also ran” composers who wrote music in Beethoven’s shadow, Moscheles was a well-trained musician and a gifted composer. The emotionalism characteristic of the Romanticists can be seen in Moscheles’ expressive directions: con disperazione, con tormento, con dolore, and the like. Crow’s performance expresses a direct response to these evocative markings.

The Liszt transcriptions of selected Mendelssohn songs—like Liszt’s Schumann and Schubert song transcriptions—show exquisite taste and fidelity to the character of the songs. On Wings of Song , old chestnut that it is, is irresistible as a piano solo; all the songs are dazzling piano solos, and Crow performs them in true Lisztian style, both tender and exhilarating.

The Schumann variations are not well-known; only the theme was published in the original complete works edition edited by Clara Schumann and Brahms (who later wrote a set of variations for piano duet on Schumann’s theme). It was Schumann’s final piano composition, the last variation finished just following his aborted attempt at suicide. It is a melancholy work, in which the theme is heard clearly in each of its five variations, even when embellished with the composer’s inventive pianistic figuration.

A highlight of the CD is the beautiful Mendelssohn Sonata in E, which is rarely played in recital and is equally rare on CD (Perahia has recorded it, and it is included in the complete sets of Mendelssohn’s piano works by the English pianists Martin Jones and Benjamin Frith). Composed in 1826, it is more a tone poem than a classical sonata (which explains the dismissal of it by writers on Mendelssohn’s music, who find it necessary to compare it to Viennese classical models). It is laid out in sections more or less like a sonata: an extensive, lyrical first movement, followed by an attacca to a lengthy, piquant Menuetto in F?-Minor; then a contrapuntal recitative section leading to a brief Andante, and, finally, a multisectioned finale that alternates storm and sweetness, ending with a brief recall of the opening of the first movement. This description of its organization does not convey the beauty and inventiveness of each section.

Todd Crow is an American treasure. He combines a solid technique and beautiful keyboard touch with complete mastery of the music. Recorded in 1992 and in 1995 by the BBC for broadcast on two different programs, the sound is excellent. Strongly recommended.

FANFARE: Susan Kagan
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Works on This Recording

Characteristic Tribute to the Memory of Malibran, fantasia for piano, Op. 94 by Ignaz Moscheles
Performer:  Todd Crow (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Date of Recording: 01/09/1992 
Venue:  Concert Hall, BBC Broadcasting House, Lo 
Length: 8 Minutes 53 Secs. 
Lieder (7) of Mendelssohn for Piano, S 547 by Franz Liszt
Performer:  Todd Crow (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1840; Leipzig, Germany 
Date of Recording: 01/09/1992 
Venue:  Concert Hall, BBC Broadcasting House, Lo 
Length: 15 Minutes 52 Secs. 
Wasserfahrt and Der Jäger Abschied (Mendelssohn), S 548 by Franz Liszt
Performer:  Todd Crow (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1848 
Date of Recording: 01/09/1992 
Venue:  Concert Hall, BBC Broadcasting House, Lo 
Length: 8 Minutes 22 Secs. 
Variations on an Original Theme in E flat, WoO 24 by Robert Schumann
Performer:  Todd Crow (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1854: pub 1939; Germany 
Date of Recording: 03/16/1995 
Venue:  St. George's, Bristol 
Length: 7 Minutes 48 Secs. 
Sonata for Piano no 1 in E major, Op. 6 by Felix Mendelssohn
Performer:  Todd Crow (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1826; Germany 
Date of Recording: 03/16/1995 
Venue:  St. George's, Bristol 
Length: 11 Minutes 7 Secs. 

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