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Bertrand Giraud Plays Moscheles & Brahms

Giraud / Moscheles / Brahms
Release Date: 09/11/2012 
Label:  Anima Records (Classical)   Catalog #: 70700001   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Ignaz MoschelesJohannes Brahms
Performer:  Bertrand Giraud
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 5 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews



MOSCHELES Sonate mélancolique, op. 49. Pastorale. Gigue, op. 58. La Tenerezza, op. 52. BRAHMS Piano Sonata No. 3 in f, op. 5 Bertrand Giraud (pn) ANIMA AMN70700001 (65:11)


Poor Ignaz Moscheles. The title of his sonata is apt; he had good reason to be Read more melancholy. Like Mendelssohn, Moscheles was born into a well-to-do Jewish family. The early part of his career, spent in Vienna and then London, showed great promise. He was a good friend to Beethoven, he was in great demand as a pianist all over Europe, his works were popular and regularly performed, and he enjoyed great esteem, especially in London, where he was appointed co-director of the Philharmonic Society.


Then, like Salieri’s encounter with Mozart, Moscheles met true genius in a 15-year-old boy named Felix Mendelssohn. At the invitation of Mendelssohn’s father, Moscheles came to Berlin to give lessons to the young Felix and his sister, Fanny. But the job turned into something Moscheles hadn’t signed up for. Felix didn’t need teaching, but he did need a chaperone. So Moscheles ended up accompanying the young prodigy to London to introduce him to the tea-and-crumpet crowd of British society.


When Mendelssohn died suddenly at the age of 38, Moscheles took his place as head of the Leipzig Conservatory, but it would always be Mendelssohn’s conservatory. And although Moscheles was blessed with relatively long life—he died in 1870 at the age of 74—he pitched his tent in the anti-new-music camp opposed to Berlioz, Liszt, and Wagner, which branded him a reactionary, and his star faded. He left a considerable volume of music—symphonic works, eight piano concertos, a number of chamber works, and lots of music for solo piano. Of his approximately 150 opus numbers, all but two—a symphony and a concert overture—include piano. Only a third or so of Moscheles’s output has found its way onto record.


In a 32:3 review of the composer’s orchestral works, I suggested that Moscheles’s main weakness, through no fault of his own, was to be ungifted in the art of continuation. It’s an intuitive sense that cannot be taught, yet it’s critical to how a phrase is extended in such a way that its continuance sounds preordained. Every great composer possesses the gift, but not every composer who possesses the gift is necessarily great, since the quality and character of the idea being continued counts for much as well.


Evidence of Moscheles’s aforesaid deficiency may be heard, particularly so in the Sonate mélancholique , which is considerably lengthier than the other pieces on the disc. Its 15-minute duration requires some development and structural coherence to hold it together. Instead, it feels like a sequence of gestures and half ideas that start and stop, only to be followed by something else, because not knowing what to do with a thought once he’s had it, Moscheles simply throws it away and looks for the next one. It doesn’t help Moscheles’s case any to be juxtaposed on the disc to Brahms, one of the great masters of the art of continuation and structural discipline. Even in his youthful F-Minor Sonata, one hears the composer’s iron grip on his material.


Regardless of my opinion of Moscheles, pianist Bertrand Giraud is to be credited for expanding the composer’s recorded legacy with these works; for as far as I can tell, they are not otherwise listed. And the award-winning French pianist gives them a sympathetic ear and a sure hand. Giraud’s reading of the Brahms sonata, in which he faces fierce competition, is beautifully done. He’s not as boldly dramatic or barnstorming as are some, but his sustaining of the mood in the score’s lengthy slow movement is exceptionally sensitive and poetic. Giraud makes of the Andante espressivo a quiet, contemplative reverie that anticipates Brahms’s late piano pieces. When power is called for, Giraud rises to the occasion, but he holds it in reserve and doesn’t flaunt it in a show of empty virtuosity. I really like this performance a lot and would greatly look forward to hearing Giraud in a complete Brahms cycle. Definitely recommended.


FANFARE: Jerry Dubins
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Works on This Recording

1.
Sonata mélancolique, for piano in F sharp major, Op 49 by Ignaz Moscheles
Performer:  Bertrand Giraud (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Date of Recording: 02/2007 
Venue:  Studio de Meudon 
Length: 15 Minutes 5 Secs. 
2.
Pastorale for Piano by Ignaz Moscheles
Performer:  Bertrand Giraud (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 19th Century 
Date of Recording: 02/2007 
Venue:  Studio de Meudon 
Length: 3 Minutes 6 Secs. 
3.
Jadis et aujourd'hui, for piano, Op. 58 by Ignaz Moscheles
Performer:  Bertrand Giraud (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Date of Recording: 02/2007 
Venue:  Studio de Meudon 
Length: 2 Minutes 27 Secs. 
4.
La Tenerezza, for piano, Op. 52 by Ignaz Moscheles
Performer:  Bertrand Giraud (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Date of Recording: 02/2007 
Venue:  Studio de Meudon 
Length: 6 Minutes 25 Secs. 
5.
Sonata for Piano no 3 in F minor, Op. 5 by Johannes Brahms
Performer:  Bertrand Giraud (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1853; Germany 
Date of Recording: 02/2007 
Venue:  Studio de Meudon 
Length: 37 Minutes 22 Secs. 

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