Moszkowski: From Foreign Lands
Rediscovered Orchestral Works
San Francisco Ballet Orchestra
Moritz Moszkowski (1854-1925) is most known for his scintillating piano compositions. he also composed an opera, a full-length ballet, three orchestral suites, a symphony (still in manuscript form), songs, concertos, and chamber music—almost all of which remain neglected or forgotten. How unfortunate!
San Francisco Ballet Orchestra music director and principal conductor, Martin West, approached Reference Recordings with the hope that there were enough orchestral works by Moritz Moszkowski to record a CD-length program. After identifying and locating numerous scores, this project of re-discovering the music of Moritz Moszkowski became a reality. Using From Foreign Lands as a starting point, we were able to assemble an intriguing program of, largely, first recordings of Moszkowski’s most memorable and melodious orchestral compositions. This delightful program is the San Francisco Ballet Orchestra’s fourth release with Reference Recordings.
The San Francisco Ballet Orchestra is internationally recognized as one of the foremost ballet orchestras in the world. Since its 1975 performance debut accompanying SF Ballet’s Nutcracker (under Music Director Denis de Coteau), the Orchestra’s home has been the San Francisco War Memorial Opera House. At that time, the ensemble was credited by the name the Performing Arts Orchestra of San Francisco. Later, in 1983, the name was officially changed to the SF Ballet Orchestra. The Orchestra’s repertoire varies from such classics as Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake and Adam’s Giselle, to more abstract and contemporary ballet and symphonic works. Over the years, the Orchestra has also earned the distinction of having accompanied such prestigious ballet companies as American Ballet Theater, Paris Opéra Ballet, National Ballet of Cuba, The Royal Ballet, the Royal Danish Ballet, Stuttgart Ballet, Bolshoi Ballet, and Paul Taylor Dance Company. In February 2016 the SF Ballet Orchestra’s recording of Ask Your Mama won the GRAMMY® for Best Engineered Album (Classical) and Producer of the Year (Classical). 2016 marks the 40th anniversary of the SF Ballet Orchestra.
“Martin West and his excellent San Francisco Ballet Orchestra[‘s]… affable and lively performances, always well played, fall very happily on the ear, and the sound is superb. the programme as whole is, as I’ve suggested, a pleasure to listen to.” –Rob Cowan, ClassicalEar
“These are memorable and melodious orchestral compositions which, especially in their full orchestra versions, seem much more than mere salon pieces from the 19th century. The opening Torch Dance is based on a tradition at some German weddings in a certain area of a dance with torches featured. The From Foreign Lands is a nearly half-hour suite which has been a San Francisco Ballet performance. This ballet orchestra is one of the leading ones in the world, and the excellent recording was made in the low-noise environment of Skywalker Sound with engineer Keith O. Johnson.…” —John Sunier, Audiophile Audition
“First off, Moszkowski’s music is delightful. Expertly composed and beautifully arranged for full symphony orchestra. If you like orchestral music with both froth and depth, then this CD’s repertoire is for you. … Percussion is highlighted throughout the CD and the section is spectacularly recorded by Reference. Sure, the loud is good, but the micro dynamics of the cymbals, castanets and bass drum are just brilliant. … As a first class ballet orchestra, the players are tuned in to West’s rhythmic subtleties and rubato. It makes for lovely interpretations of these unknown works. The recording? By Prof. Johnson. We are not worthy! Superlative, as usual. Do you think he and Reference would ever release anything less than benchmark? Of course not. This beauty is no exception. Warm, detailed and powerfully deep when required. … there’s enough dynamic diversity to place the recording in total sync with the music and West’s vision. Highly recommended.” —Anthony Kershaw, Audiophilia
“Martin West leads the San Francisco Ballet Orchestra in an eclectic assortment of hidden orchestral gems by the Prussian composer.” —WCRB CD of the Week
“Reference Recordings aids in erasing the paucity of collections by introducing us to the delectability of From Foreign Lands. Moszkowski’s mastering of highly ornamental, approachable music without trivial fanfare is securely tethered under the confident leadership of San Francisco Ballet Orchestra’s (SFBO) Martin West…the CD couldn’t be in better hands.… Keith O. Johnson again masters the sound to create a joyful journey into a man and his soul that, until this time, has been funneled into virtual obscurity. Late Romantic era ballet lovers will find this Reference Recordings irrepressibly engaging.” —Christie Grimstad, ConcertoNet