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Chopin: Variations on "Là ci darem la mano," 2 Etudes, Mazurka in A Minor, Waltz in E Flat, Ballades Nos. 1 & 3, 3 Nocturnes, and Polonaise-Fantasie. Frederick Moyer, piano (Kawai). JRI Recordings JRI J113 (79:11)
A casual reader would have no way of knowing that the contents of this CD are presented in chronological order, except for the last piece, the Nocturne in C Sharp Minor, composed in 1830 but not published until 1875. A casual reader, too, might well sniff, "What? Another Chopin recital?" Folks who aren't particularly well-versed in NC cultural history might well wonder, who is Moyer? And devotees of Steinway or Bösendorfer instruments might sneer at the thought of a Kawai grand.
The order of the presentation is important, for hearing Chopin's music in sequence is informative and, at times, ear-opening. In that respect, this is not just another Chopin program. Moyer is a frequent visitor here, an artist whose local performances tend to be savored by connoisseurs and his many friends and admirers, too. That's because he is the grandson of NC playwright Paul Green. Moyer has played here as a solo artist and with his cousin, cellist Nancy Green. We've heard him in formal settings and elsewhere, including a program several years ago at Springmoor. He's an artist who is worth paying attention to, a musician with something to say.
His program includes some familiar pieces by Chopin and several rarely-heard gems. The opening work, for example, is a product of the composer's 17th year. The Variations on Mozart's Don Giovanni air begin with a glorious Largo introduction of astonishing beauty and encompass some 18 minutes of pianistic wizardry. The score calls for orchestra, but the solo piano version works just fine, and Moyer tosses it off with aplomb. The recorded sound is superb, and that Kawai is more than ok. Indeed, we've played through this release several times already and find it as impressive as some of Perahia's best studio work, not only in the disc's acoustic qualities but also in terms of Moyer's precision, overall technique, and interpretations.
There are excellent notes by Steven Ledbetter, a former Boston Symphony program annotator. The pianist contributed brief remarks on the works given. The CD is done up in environmentally-friendly packaging; the only plastic one sees is the CD itself and the clip that holds it in place.
Put this on for a blind listening test and you can astound and amaze your friends. The great pianists aren't all dead. Moyer lives!
More information is available online at http://www.jrirecordings.com/
While on the subject of Chopin, I should mention that I came by my copy of the score of those aforementioned Variations via a handy CD-ROM issued by CD Sheet Music, LLC, distributed by Presser, and purchased at Burrage Music Company in North Raleigh. For the paltry sum of $14.95 (which is a nickel less than Moyer's CD), you may have in your own little computer tray a single CD-ROM said to contain the complete works of Chopin. That's not completely true. There are some omissions, and virtually none of the pieces first published in the 20th century are included - this has to do with copyright, presumably. Still, you get early editions of all the important scores and many that never turn up in recital programs. These things can be printed off and used for playing or study ad lib. Such a deal! Other titles range from the "complete" Lieder of Schubert to "all" of Beethoven's music for piano to complete piano-vocal scores of Wagner, Verdi and Puccini. More information is available online at http://www.cdsheetmusic.com/ but the last time we checked, Burrage had a healthy collection of these.
The bottom line, then, is this. For thirty bucks, you can be the proud owner of a truly stunning Chopin recital and virtually all of Chopin's sheet music. Ah, the wonders of high tech!