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8.573175 - MOSCHELES, I.: Flute and Piano Music - Sonate Concertante / Flute Sonatas / Divertimento à la Savoyarde (Kazunori Seo, Makoto Ueno)

Ignaz Moscheles (1794–1870)
Works for Flute and Piano


Distinguished for much of his life as a pianist, composer and conductor, Ignaz Moscheles, during the course of a long life, seemed to be on friendly terms with almost anyone of importance in the world of music. Born in 1794, three years after the death of Mozart, he met Beethoven, survived Mendelssohn, Chopin and Berlioz, and lived into the age of Liszt and Wagner.

The son of a cloth-merchant, Moscheles was born in Prague in 1794 and showed sufficient musical interest and talent to become a pupil of Dionys Weber, starting to fulfil his father’s musical ambitions for at least one of his five children. As a child Moscheles had been fascinated by Beethoven, but under the stricter discipline imposed by his new teacher, Weber, he turned instead to a musical diet based on Bach, Mozart and Clementi. His idolisation of Beethoven continued, but his future career as a pianist was decisively influenced by Weber’s early teaching. His father’s death in 1808 led Moscheles to his first public concert in Prague and then to move, with his mother’s encouragement, to Vienna, where he was able to study with Beethoven’s former teachers Albrechtsberger and Salieri, and to accept help as a pianist from Johann Andreas Streicher, while remaining loyal, as he insisted, to his old teacher in Prague. Vienna remained a base for Moscheles, to which he returned after various concert tours that took him to Munich, Dresden and Leipzig, establishing himself as one of the leading pianists of the time and winning particular success with La Marche d’Alexandre with Variations, Op. 32, for piano and orchestra, a piece well timed to entertain participants in the Congress of Vienna in 1815. It remained for years in his concert repertoire. Vienna provided opportunities to associate with many of the leading musicians of the time, a pattern that was to be repeated by Moscheles elsewhere in the course of his life. In Vienna he was entrusted with the provision of a piano arrangement of Beethoven’s opera Fidelio, in place of Hummel, and under the composer’s supervision. Later he attempted to alleviate the difficulties of Beethoven’s final days by helping to arrange payments for compositions from London.

In Vienna Moscheles was on good terms with many of the important musicians of the day, the guitarist Giuliani, the violinist Mayseder as well as Meyerbeer and Spohr. This set a pattern for his future career. In the 1820s he embarked on a series of concert tours and in 1824 met Felix Mendelssohn in Berlin, establishing a lasting friendship with the Mendelssohn family and particularly with Felix, who exercised a strong influence over him, in spite of his youth. In 1825 Moscheles married Charlotte Embden in Hamburg. Basing his career in London, he taught at the Royal Academy of Music and served as director of the Royal Philharmonic Society. From 1822, indeed, Moscheles had regarded London as his second home, welcoming there visiting and resident musicians. His pupils included Litolff and Thalberg and among his friends were Johann Baptist Cramer, Kalkbrenner and Ferdinand Ries. In 1826 he was able to welcome Weber, approaching the end of his life, in London for the first performance of his opera Oberon. In the following years Moscheles did much to foster musical activities in London, introducing music ranging from Scarlatti to Beethoven, his home a centre of musical activity. His own concert activities generally included improvisations as well as old and new compositions, and detailed accounts of his activities are preserved in the posthumous biography based on his diaries, assembled by his widow and published in 1872.

The later part of his career found Moscheles in Leipzig, where he settled in 1846, at the invitation of Mendelssohn, to teach at the newly established Conservatory. In Leipzig he was able to enjoy briefly enough his friendship with Mendelssohn, who died in 1847, shortly after the death of his sister. His colleagues, however, included the violinist Ferdinand David and Joseph Joachim and pupils included Grieg and Arthur Sullivan. Although Moscheles represented an earlier tradition, both as a pianist and as a musician, he was open to contemporary music, to Schumann and Chopin, and even to Berlioz and to Liszt and Wagner, with some reservations. His widow’s biography of her husband contains an account of musical life over a course of some fifty years, a period during which Moscheles was for many years at the social and musical heart of music in Europe.

The compositions left by Moscheles inevitably include a number of works for his own instrument, the piano, not least eight piano concertos, of which the third, the Concerto in G minor, remained in particular demand. His works include piano sonatas, variations and fantasies and his Méthode des méthodes de piano, published in 1837 and by which he set great store. His chamber music includes a small number of compositions for flute and piano. The Divertimento à la savoyarde, Op. 78, for piano and flute or violin, was advertised in the London Harmonicon in 1830 by the London publishers Mori and Lavenu. The piece starts with an A major Andantino, proceeding to a minor key Allegretto, before the return of the opening, and a final Allegretto giocoso.

In 1828 Moscheles visited Edinburgh for the first time, there meeting Sir Walter Scott, to whom he later dedicated a Fantaise sur des Airs des Bardes écossais for piano with the option of orchestral accompaniment, also in a version for piano solo and a version for piano and flute. Scott acknowledged the dedication in a letter to Moscheles in London, asking to be remembered to Mr Clementi. The Sonate concertante in G major, Op. 79, was written in the same year and later published by Schlesinger in Paris as Duo concertant in 1829/30. The work was dedicated to Meyerbeer. The first movement, marked Allegro con spirito, starts with the first subject, announced by the piano and followed by the flute. A transition leads to the second subject, heard from the piano, and further thematic material is introduced before the exposition of this sonata-form movement comes to an end. The central development brings touches of counterpoint, before the expected varied recapitulation. The B flat major Andantino, quasi Allegretto, is dominated by its simple melody, to which an excursion into B flat minor and D flat major provides a contrast. The piano provides a running accompaniment to the principal theme of the final Allegro vivace, a movement that brings suggestion after suggestion of possible further contrapuntal elaboration.

The Quatre Divertissements, Op. 82b, for piano and flute, written during the same years, include a lively March and Trio, and a tribute to Haydn, based on the Emperor’s hymn, Gott erhalte Franz der Kaiser. The third piece is a Rondino and the fourth takes a melody from Joseph Weigl’s successful opera of 1809 Die Schweizerfamilie (The Swiss Family), a work mounted in Paris in 1827 in a French version Emmeline, ou La famille suisse. Moscheles had some years earlier written a piece for piano based on an air sung by the heroine Emmeline in the opera.

The Variations concertantes in D minor Op. 21 , for flute or violin and piano, dates from 1813 or 1814, while Moscheles was still in Vienna. The Andantino D minor theme, very much of its period, is followed by a rapid first variation, with the flute providing off-beat punctuation. The second variation, Più mosso, starts with dotted rhythms and the third variation offers a turbulent piano accompaniment in semiquaver triplets. The fourth variation is in D major and the fifth is for piano alone, featuring rapid figuration. The sixth variation, marked Allegretto, leads to a final section in D major.

The Grande Sonate concertante in A major, Op. 44, for flute and piano, was published by Artaria in Vienna in 1818. The sonata starts with a movement in classical sonata form, dominated by a rhythmic figure that appears in the first subject and with interesting contrapuntal suggestions as the thematic material is worked out This is followed by a lilting slow movement, marked Andante amoroso and in C major. The E major Scherzo is a further reminder of the admiration Moscheles always held for Beethoven and frames an E minor Trio, to be followed by a final Rondo alla polacca which makes technical demands on both players, bringing contrasting episodes and at one point unusual experiment with the higher register of the piano.

Keith Anderson

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