BBC Music Magazine. Sauer Vol.6

October 2004

Complete Piano Music, Volume 6
Piano Concerto No 2 in C minor. Galop de concert.
Cinq Morceaux de Difficulte moyenne.
Petite Scene de ballet. Menuet Vieux style.
Polka de Concert
Oleg Marshev, Aarhus Symphony Orchestra / James Loughran
Danacord DACOCD 596

Like many pianists of his generation the Liszt pupil Emil von Sauer was a prolific composer, his output focusing almost exclusively on his own instrument. For the most part Sauer wrote virtuoso salon music designed to show off his prowess as an interpreter, but from time to time he also tackled more ambitious genres, completing two sonatas and two concertos.

Collectors of Hyperion’s indispensable Romantic Piano Concerto series will no doubt be familiar with Sauer’s excellent First Concerto performed with considerable brilliance by Stephen Hough. Its successor, composed at the beginning of the 20th century, is more ambitious, opening with an almost oriental – sounding oboe melody before the piano takes up the musical reins. There follows a delightful wispy scherzo somewhat reminiscent of the equivalent section in Liszt’s First Concerto and a gorgeously Romantic slow movement. It’s a pity that the finale proves to be something of a Jet – down, its four – square material rarely rising above the mundane. Nonetheless. Oleg Marshev, who has been working his way through all of Sauer’s output, makes the best of this movement and performs the rest of the concerto with total commitment. The other items on the disc are unpretentious miniatures. None suggests that Sauer was an original voice, but they all sound very effective, especially when performed with such imagination and humour as here.

Eric Levi