[16 November 2006]
The late 19th century piano virtuoso and composer Moritz Moszkowski (1854-1925) once wrote in a guestbook, under the previous recitalist’s “Bach, Beethoven, Brahms—all the others cretins!” the legend “Mendelssohn, Meyerbeer, Moszkowski—all the others Christians.” Moszkowski was a more accomplished keyboard executant than Dexter Romweber, but this amusing surprise CD is of pretty well Moszkowski’s sort of music. Dex, as he signs his liner note (‘Romweber’ would sound a bit pompous in this context) reports that as a boy he was introduced to the piano and music with works of Beethoven, Mozart and his own hero Chopin. He used to dress like Chopin? Hopefully he’ll continue to enjoy better health than the composer to whose “Revolutionary Étude” his “Evolutionary Étude” makes a nod. While Dex says you shouldn’t expect flawlessly clean fingering from him, certainly Claudio Array remembered expressiveness had a higher priority than precision in Moszkowski’s lifetime. The Note perfect fingering was a later generation’s affectation, soul came first. It does here, and this early 21st century amateur pianist and composer for piano musically contemporary with Moszkowski, Moscheles, D’Albert and Busoni only sounds like a silent film cinema pianist on the video track (clip from a film I’ve not seen, in which he sits down and plays a rough old upright in something like a janitors’ retiring room as one old guy plays cards, etc.). Dex’s piano playing doesn’t sound pretentious, which does suggest he isn’t shallow. And for once on a CD whose musical proponent has crossed over into classical European concert music the playing time hasn’t been swelled out with a lot of stuff inferior to silence. Hoorah!