For his second release on Telarc, internationally acclaimed pianist Andre Watts performs the piano concerto of American composer and pianist Edward MacDowell. This Concerto in D minor was composed in 1884-1885 and had its premiere with the composer as the soloist in 1889 in New York.
MacDowell's musical charm lies in its romantic harmonic structure which is strikingly similar to the music of Grieg. This concerto, molded in the sweeping, virtuoso style of Liszt and Rubinstein, is comprised of two large, epic outer movements surrounded by a sprightly central scherzo. The first movement is in a sonata form filled with lightning flashes of brilliant keyboard virtuosity. The delightful Presto giocoso shows the influence of such fine-point Romanticists as Mendelssohn and Saint-Saens. The finale is a swaggering showpiece for the soloist.
Also performed on this CD are the Liszt Piano Concertos Nos. 1 & 2. Liszt sketched his two piano concertos in 1839, but they lay unfinished until 1848. In both of these works there exists the wide variety of moods, tempos, orchestrations and rhythms that are the trademarks of Liszt's works. These are ideal compositions to showcase Watts' dynamic musicianship and technique.
The E-flat Concerto's continuous span is broken into four different sections: the opening Allegro, built largely from the bold theme presented immediately at the outset; an Adagio that grows from a lyrical, arched melody initiated by the cellos and basses; a vivacious, scherzo-like passage flavored with the glistening tintinnabulation of the solo triangle and a closing Allegro marziale that gathers together the motives of the preceding sections into a rousing conclusion.
The Second Piano Concerto is composed of six musical scenes played without pause. Liszt never indicated a specific plot for any of these scenes, but he wrote with such extroverted emotionalism that the listener cannot help but envision a scenario.