The great pianist Paderewski said: “After Chopin, Moszkowski best understands how to write for the piano, and his writing embraces the whole gamut of piano technique.” Presented here on this album, Etsuko Hirose showcases the wide range of the piano music by an extraordinary composer who was a star in his lifetime, but now in need of a romantic revival.
The CD booklet contains informative notes by Etsuko Hirose.
Moritz Moszkowski was born in Breslau (now Wroclaw, Poland) on 23 August 1854 in a well-oﬀ Jewish family. In 1865, the family moved to Dresden where Moritz showed his precocious talent for music. In 1869 he went to Berlin to study in the Stern Conservatory, then subsequently at Theodor Kullak Neue Akademie der Tonkunst, where he taught for over 25 years. A brilliant pianist, he began his career in Berlin in 1873 with great success and his reputation led to numerous tours all over Europe. His playing was not acrobatic, but he was a musician possessed of skills of incomparable delicacy, technical polish and a high sense of perfection of detail. Two years later, he played his concerto No.1 on two pianos with Franz Liszt who admired his talent. Although he won the warmest recognition from the Hungarian legend, he seems not to have been fully satisfied, and never published it (the manuscript was found 140 years later in an archive at the Bibliothèque Nationale de France). Later, when he had been asked to send the score of this concerto, he declined with humour for two reasons. “First, it is worthless; second, it is most convenient (the score being 400 pages long) for making my piano stool higher when I am engaged in studying better works.”
As a pretty good violinist, he often took the role of first violin in the Kullak Academy orchestra and had an honourable career as a conductor as well. An excellent teacher with a reputation for being extremely demanding, he had among his pupils Josef Hofmann, Wanda Landowska, Gaby Casadesus, Joaquin Turina and Vlado Perlemuter.
Although Moszkowski is more or less forgotten today, he was known as a highly respected and popular pianist-composer in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Later, legendary pianists such as Josef Hofmann, Ignaz Friedman, Sergei Rachmaninov and Vladimir Horowitz frequently played Moszkowski’s works in their repertoire. Moszkowski kept his ideal and traditional aesthetic of the Belle Epoque throughout his life; his polished salon music, both for its glittering brilliance and its subtle expressiveness, reflects the grace and spirit of that period which oﬀers enchanting moments that are life-enhancing.
Born in Nagoya in Japan, Etsuko Hirose began studying the piano at the age of three. When she was only six, she performed Mozart’s Piano Concerto no.26 with orchestra. After pursuing her studies at the Ecole Normale de Musique de Paris and at the Conservatoire National Superieur de Musique et de Danse she has received the guidance of Alfred Brendel and other notables.
A prize-winner at prestigious international contests such as the Frederic Chopin Competition for young pianists (Moscow), the G. B. Viotti and the Munich ARD Competition, she won First Prize at the Martha Argerich Competition in 1999, which launched her solo career.
She is a guest at renowned venues in Germany, US, Argentina and Japan, and has been accompanied by numerous leading orchestras with distinguished conductors. Etsuko has also been invited to appear at many festivals in Europe and Asia). Her performances are regularly broadcast, notably on Arte, France 3, France Musique, Radio Classique, and the NHK.
She has recorded numerous discs for Denon, Mirare, Warner and Piano21. Her two most recent recordings were devoted to Lyapunov, with 12 Etudes d’exécution transcendante, and an album of piano duets with Cyprien Katsaris.
Her touch is quite magical, and her chords are always luminous. She plays with passion and clarity at the same time, always cognizant of where she is in a piece. Her Chopin is the work of a pianist with taste, technique, power, and perceptiveness. Dave Saemann, Fanfare Magazine