Moszkowski With Mixed Results

Review by: Jed Distler


Artistic Quality: 7

Sound Quality: 8

2019’s Stanislaw Moniuszko International Competition took place in Rzesów, Poland, featuring solo pianists and chamber groups exclusively in works by Polish composers. The Dux label has issued a series of CDs culled from the live performances, including this volume given over to Moritz Moszkowski (1854-1925).

Most of Moszkowski’s output consists of virtuosic salon music that is lightweight yet exquisitely crafted and oozing with charm. Likewise, the best Moszkowski performances need plenty of charm and workmanship. Daniel Ziomko plays the notes of Etincelles quite well, but his little pauses at phrase ends grow increasingly predictable. I’ve also heard lighter and suppler accounts of the shimmering D-flat Etude Op. 72 No. 12 than what Adam Piorkowski offers.

On the other hand, Eryk Parchanski’s elegant double-note technique and lyrical instincts are a boon in the A-flat minor Etude Op. 72 No. 13, while Pavel Dombrovsky’s large-scale bravura in the G-flat Concert Study Op. 24 No. 1 easily explains why he won the first prize in the competition’s piano category. The Andriuti-Shemchuk Piano Duo imposes a few too many outsized dynamic contrasts and tricky rubatos onto the Spanish Dances, as if they were plumbing depths that don’t exist. By contrast, the Novi Piano Duo delivers crisper, more direct results in the Album espagnol, notably in the second piece’s bracing repeated-note passages.

Moszkowski’s Op. 82, however, is a minor masterpiece that all violinists should investigate. In each of the four movements, the Effimero Violin/Piano Duo is well-attuned to the music’s modest dimensions and melodic elegance. That said, I slightly prefer the Naxos recording with violinist Nazrin Rashidova, where she exercises firmer control of the Humoresque finale’s detached articulation and brings more tonal robustness to the third-movement Melodie, abetted by Daniel Grimwood’s sensitive handling of the piano part. Dux’s booklet warrants a special mention for its informative annotations about the music and extensive artist biographies.

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Recording Details:

Album Title: The Stanislaw Moniuszko International Competition of Polish Music in Rzesów 2019: Volume 3 Moszkowski
Reference Recording: None for this collection

    Piano Etudes (excerpts); Spanish Dances for piano four hands Op. 12; Album espagnol for piano four hands Op. 21; Four Pieces for Violin & Piano Op. 82
  • Pavel Dombrovsky (piano); Daniel Ziomko (piano); Adam Piorkowski (piano); Eryk Parchanski (piano)
  • Andriuti-Shemchuk Piano Duo; Novi Piano Duo; Effimero Duo

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