Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Ludwig van Beethoven, Johannes Brahms, Frederic Chopin|
Ivan Moravec Live in Brussels
Listen to Samples
Welcome performances from a master
blue-59 | Blount Springs, Alabama, United States | 09/30/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Anything new from Ivan Moravec must be heard, but while this does qualify as "new"--all tracks never before appeared on LP or CD--the recordings were made more than a quarter century ago. Until now, I was unaware that this material even existed.
Moravec made two recordings of the Beethoven Pastoral sonata for Connoisseur Society back in 1969, one in a New York studio, the other in a concert in Italy. The latter was chosen for its particular excitement to accompany some other Beethoven on LP. However, though VAI and Nonesuch and others have re-released virtually all of Moravec's Connoisseur Society output on CD, neither 1969 Pastoral ever made it to silver disc.
So we finally have a Moravec Pastoral on CD, and it's very fine in every way, a little more pianistically oriented, a notch more Romantic, and faster in the finale than the 1969 Italy performance. It is thoroughly enjoyable, full of energy and beautiful phrasing, with Moravec's infinitely variable touch gloriously on display.
Moravec had committed the four Brahms pieces to LP not long before this concert in Brussels, so it is clear that he was thinking about them in that era. These certainly join a number of fine recorded performances. I do enjoy how Moravec can make a miniature seem as if it's the centerpiece of the concert. The G minor rhapsody is given a big Romantic treatment, similar to Kovacevich's on Philips, if you know that one.
That Moravec gave the world towering performances of the Chopin nocturnes is well known, so the question is, How do the two on this disc compare to the 1966 recordings? There's a bit more spontaneity in the new B-major, it's played slightly faster; the old one digs a little deeper. The new C sharp minor is very different. Much faster, disappearing into the moonlight at 4:35 as compared to 5:42 for the 1966 version. But overall I prefer the studio recordings of 1966 for their absolute background silence, their close-up sound, and the superb engineering by E. Alan Silver. I want to be alone in quiet when I hear a Chopin nocturne, not among other people. I can't remember which great pianist said that the late bagatelles of Beethoven should be played only privately, not in concert, but I feel the same way about the nocturnes. My personal prejudice, I admit.
Moravec had recorded these two Mazurkas in 1965 and again in 1969, so this is his third go-round. Nevertheless, I'm glad to have them. And if he wants to play the same two again on his next disc, that's fine with me, too. This is characteristic of Moravec, who recorded the C# minor op. 25 etude in 1969, ruminated over it for 20 years, and recorded it again in 1989. This musician is not out to complete as many cycles as he can of this or that.
It's harder for me to review the B minor scherzo. Much of it is quite furious, terrifying difficult to play, and I tend to prefer a slower, more expansive reading that dwells longer on the beauty of the moment. Moravec plays it the way Chopin apparently wanted it, so I guess I shouldn't argue with that. The performance is unquestionably superb, very much like the one on Dorian, recorded six years later, and the one on VAI, recorded 14 years earlier. Interesting that all three clock within one second of each other. I find it amazing that anyone can get through this piece at such tempos without missing a note, but that's what I hear on this disc.
A note on the recording. With concerts, you always run the risk of capturing intrusive coughing, rustling of programs, and other distracting noise. Luckily, this Belgian audience was quite respectful, and there's not a whisper or crackle to be heard throughout. You wouldn't know this was a concert until you heard the applause, and the audience was refined enough to wait until the last notes had faded away. These are analog 1983 recordings analog remastered in 2009, and they sound just fine.
Limpid, clean, flowing, musical - an absolute master at play
G. Bell | San Francisco | 12/08/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Moravec is one of my favorite pianists. He has a way of disappearing into the music and pulling the listener in as well. His playing reduces me to silence. One perfect beautiful phrase after another. Not one to bang the doors down he creates magical moods that massage my soul.
Want music to fall in love to? This is it. Meditative, romantic, pure. For me his Chopin even tops Rubinstein -just that added touch of yearning. Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful."