Edward MacDowell and Clara Schumann could arguable be called two of the nineteenth century's most unjustly neglected artists. For MacDowell, his lack of popularity likely stems from nothing more significant than geography, while Schumann was in large part overshadowed by the fame of her husband. The piano concertos, both magnificent compositions, both for the solo piano as well as the orchestral accompaniment, are performed here by pianist Frederick Moyer. For its own part, Moyer's playing is generally quite nice. His technique is quite facile and elegant, and his musical of the score is evident throughout. The frequent solo cadenzas, particularly in the MacDowell, reflect a pleasing level of warmth, sweeping Romantic gestures, and a keen sense of pacing. Then...enter the "orchestra." For the MacDowell concerto, Moyer uses a pre-recorded orchestral accompaniment produced by the popular Music Minus One series. While this is an invaluable tool for pianists learning to play with the orchestra, its efficacy as a recording medium is questionable. The interaction between orchestra and pianist...well, there is no interaction. Moyer must play at whatever tempo the recorded orchestra sets out without the possibility of any rubato. Purists may balk at this lack of dialogue and will also notice the rather slipshod quality of the orchestra's performance in general. For the Schumann concerto, a real orchestra is not even used. Rather, Moyer uses a MIDI-generated orchestra. Here again, purists will cringe at the lack of spontaneity and dialogue. While this album certainly represents an interesting "experiment," efforts like this still do not rise to the level of true performances with actual orchestras.
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AllMusic Review by Mike D. Brownell
|Piano Concerto No. 2 in D minor, Op. 23|
|Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 7|