“Few pianists have played the silken aristocrat more engagingly than Benno Moiseiwitsch. His outward impassivity hid an imaginative delicacy and stylish nonchalance often mistaken for diffidence.
Playful, individual, debonair, occasionally mischievous (why not expand on the last pages of the Grieg Concerto's cadenza if you feel like it?), he invariably had one more surprise up his sleeve than you expected.
The Grieg Concerto sounds newly minted, with markings such as tranquillo e cantabile observed with special affection. The catalogue may be filled with more openly confrontational performances but Moiseiwitsch, who took music more by stealth than storm, elegantly eclipses the readings of so many more assertive keyboard tigers. For encores there are classic performances of Palmgren and Schumann.
Both the Grieg and Schumann Concertos were central to Moiseiwitsch's immense repertoire but, as with so many other Russian pianists, Schumann remained his greatest love. His opening to the Schumann Concerto is under-stated (like a great actor throwing away his lines), but his projection of the principal theme has a matchless tonal bloom and subtlety. How many other pianists have eased their way through the central A flat dreams with such unaffected charm? In the opening of the Intermezzo he's delightfully grazioso, emphasising the staccatos as much as the manifold feelings and colours, and in the finale his play of light and shade are, again, inimitable Moiseiwitsch.
Ackermann's partnership is arguably more able than inspiring, but Testament's transfers of recordings dating from 1941 to 1953 are superb.”