MOSZKOWSKI: From Foreign Lands – Rediscovered Orchestral Works – SF Ballet Orch./ Martin West – Reference Recordings

by | Sep 17, 2016 | Classical CD Reviews

A delightful set of rediscovered orchestral works of Moszkowski.

MORITZ MOSZKOWSKI: From Foreign Lands – Rediscovered Orchestral Works [TrackList follows] – San Francisco Ballet Orch./ Martin West – Reference Recordings HDCD RR-138, 72:45 [Distr. by Naxos] ****:

Although Moszkowski composed an opera, ballet, three orchestral suites, a symphony, songs, concertos, and chamber music, if this neglected composer is given any attention at all it is for his salon-type piano compositions. He arranged some of these for full orchestra, and the first five selections on this CD are those. The other two were orchestrated by others in 1912 and 1884. Four of the Moszkowski selections are world premiere recordings.

These are memorable and melodious orchestral compositions which, especially in their full orchestra versions, seem much more than mere salon pieces from the 19th century. The opening Torch Dance is based on a tradition at some German weddings in a certain area of a dance with torches featured.  The From Foreign Lands is a nearly half-hour suite which has been a San Francisco Ballet performance. This ballet orchestra is one of the leading ones in the world, and the excellent recording was made in the low-noise environment of Skywalker Sound with engineer Keith O. Johnson.

The fifth selection consists of six airs from incidental music to a play which pitted Don Juan against Faust. It was daring attempt to combine the two great works of Mozart and Goethe and was later made into a silent film. The next selection, Gondoliera, one of the most popular salon piano pieces by Moszkowski, was orchestrated by a cellist of 1912, who was also a composer himself. The Moszkowski Spanish Dances – which close the CD are all original tunes by the composer and not based on Spanish folk melodies.

The few CD decks which properly decode HDCD do provide a slight improvement in fidelity, but don’t be concerned if your deck does not.

—John Sunier

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