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“Moszkowski Piano Works”
Moritz Moszkowski : Trois Morceaux, opus 34: 1. ValseThe Tales of Hoffmann, WV 251: “Barcarolle”Frühling, opus 57: 4. “Zephyr”; 5. “Liebeswalzer”Tristan und Isolde, WV 252: “Closing Scene and Isolde’s Death”Quinze Etudes de Virtuosité, opus 72, n° 13 “Molto animato”Sechs Phantasiestücke, opus 52: 3. “Zwiegesang”; 4. “Die Jongleurin”Huit Morceaux caractéristiques, opus 36: 4. “En automne”; 6. “Etincelles”Drei Klavierstücke in Tanzform, opus 17: 1. “Polonaise”Zwei Klavierstücke, opus 45: 2. “Guitarre”Caprice espagnol, opus 37 – Carmen, WV 250: Chanson bohème

Etsuko Hirose (piano)
Recording: Eglise Evangélique, Saint-Marcel, Paris, France (October 29 – November 1, 2019) – 72’15
Danacord DACOCD 866 – Booklet in English

Moritz Moszkowski is one of those lone composers who’s been quickly skimmed over. Alas, for he was poised as advancing the cause of Frédéric Chopin but with unconventional lustre of sophistication. Moszkowski had a predilection for reflections of the Romantic era, whether it be through transcriptions, a snapshot of nature, a dance or even a mere folly. Such a cross-section pleasingly moves the album about, but it also carries with it vast amounts of pianistic treachery. This is where all is sorted out...through the visceral lens of Etsuko Hirose.

Reimagining some of operas’ most profound passages, we find one chapter of Moszkowski’s journey. The familiar “Barcarolle” from Les Contes d’Hoffmann brings forth some inventively contemporary twists. Depiction-wise, this adds firm continuity, yet the lining breathes unusual suffusions of candor. Mlle Hirose's strong articulation is like parsing though a series of photographic slides by memory, giving pause to politely flush out Moszkowski's colorful nuances with steady hands. She easily shades Wagner’s emotional threads when confronting the initially dank equations of Tristan und Isolde with greater assertive qualities of melodramatic content and a high saturation of pullbacks and crescendos. Swinging the pendulum into the Iberian Peninsula, we first hear rhythmic splendors of the Caprice espagnol whereby Mlle Hirose gives a well-deserved richness to the score. Use of consistently insistent repeated notes help snap into place the intoxicating impressions of castanets. This ostinato widens during the impassioned Chanson bohème. This is the “ultimate” in Etsuko Hirose’s recital. The rendering has the patience of Job by way of gradual builds. Moreover, the notes carry a feverish outbreak, even outpacing those found within Bizet’s Carmen. Filled with steroidal energy, the depth of Etsuko Hirose can never be underestimated: we hear the full scope of her emotional canon at the very end.

Organic elements provide vestiges of stimulation as well. The pianist gives “Zephyr” its own depiction of unrelenting, capricious windy textures that seemly wither away into a gorgeously forceful wisp. Adding to the equinox, Fall leaves tussle around in a breezy scape during “En Automne’s” wildly fluidic and airy arpeggio passages.

Even Moritz Moszkowki couldn’t leave out notions of dance and fancy. Orchestral depictions have previously been captured, such as the 2014 “From Foreign Lands”…this reinforces balletic ideas for the keyboard. Moving forward, Mlle Hirose asserts herself with more determination during the bolder “Liebeswalzer”. Housed by shares of spiky peaks and deep troughs is what gives the waltz more dignity, alongside mollified circumstances in the middle compartment. The Etude de Virtuosité invokes Liszt’s Feux Follets with its magical double note combinations. Slow and stunning, Etsuko Hirose turns the music into a plumage of intoxicating technicality. Her “Die Jongleurin” moves with reliable momentum, though she throttles back the antic punctuations, in contrast to American Jeffrey Biegel...her rendition shows a serious reserve. Even her “Etincelles” has a literal translation with hints of never stopping. Gone are the frills of outlandish and facetious behavior. Vibrant. In an elongation of Chopin, Moszkowski’s Polonaise provides Etsuko Hirose ample room to reach through the window of showmanship and all of its virtuosities. Because the piece is the longest, it allows Mlle Hirose wider berth to exercise grand commentary and sage judgement.

Moritz Moszkowski’s readily approachable music has an elegant understatement without jumping overboard. Unsurprisingly, we bear witness to something poetically infectious and endearing in the way Etsuko Hirose performs this music. An affirmative recommendation!

Christie Grimstad




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