September 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

This pianist’s voyage of discovery unearths an ambitious romantic concerto

Volume 6 of Oleg Marshev’s survey of Emil von Sauer’s keyboard music includes a first recording of the Second Piano Concerto, already a far cry from the First Concerto’s beguiling if less ambitious world. Getting off to an exotic start (moderato lamentoso), the pianist quickly launches into a magisterial utterance worthy of Brahms. Wildly disparate elements are ingeniously knitted together and the Scherzo (part of a Lisztian, continuous argument) has a sufficiently grotesque undertow to lift it from salon vacuity into genuine character and piquancy (did Sauer know Pierne’s Piano Concerto of 1887 or was he haunted by Grieg’s trolls and northern lights?). The Adagio blossoms into a sumptuous, richly harmonized melody and if the concluding Allegro deciso is heavy – footed, its outsize flourish at 4’27” offers Marshev an ideal gift for his full – blooded, all – Russian technique and commitment.

After such virtuosity the Cinq Morceaux de difficulte moyenne gently coax the less ambitious pianist. And whether in a Schumannesque March, nostalgic Waltz or in a Berceuse lost in its own elegant reverie, Marshev plays with ideal fluency and warmth. The final four pieces are dated charmers tailored to the taste of the day yet once again with enough surprises to rescue them from triviality. The recording is excellent and James Loughran and the Aarhus Symphony Orchestra are enthusiastic partners in their voyage of discovery.

Bryce Morrison