Pupils of Chopin
Karol MIKULI (1819-1897)
Two Polonaises, Op. 8: No. 1 in G minor [5:25]
Piano Pieces, Op. 24; Nos 7-10 [12:24]
Two Polonaises, Op. 8: No. 2 in A flat major [4:50]
Thomas Dyke Ackland TELLEFSEN (1823-1874)
Waltz in D flat major, Op. 27 [4:02]
Impromptu in G major, Op. 38 [4:13]
Le petite mendiante, Op. 23 [2:42]
Four Mazurkas, Op. 3 [9:10]
Carl FILTSCH (1830-1845)
Impromptu No. 1 in G flat major [4:06]
Mazurka in E flat minor, Op. 3, No. 3 [4:00]
Das Lebewohl von Venedig [3:40]
Barcarolle in G flat major [1:41]
Romanze ohne Worte [3:02]
Impromptu No. 2 in B flat minor [5:24]
Adolph GUTMANN (1819-1882)
Nocturne in A flat major, Op. 8, No. 1 [3:49]
Le Réveil des Oiseaux – Idylle, Op. 44 [3:53]
Boléro, Op. 35 [6:30]
Hubert Rutkowski (piano)
rec. July, September and October 2009, Witold Lutoslawski Concert Studio of Polish Radio, Warsaw
NAXOS 8.572344 [78:50]

The quartet of Chopin pupils presented on this disc may or may not be known to you. Certainly Mikuli should be, as he’s the best known, but Tellefsen may also have crossed your musical horizons at some point; the short-lived Filtsch probably only via a semi-celebrated comment from Liszt and Gutmann, I suspect, not at all. Together we have twenty-two pieces of music, all brief, in dance or salon form, all predominantly light; a profusion, in other words, of Polonaises, Barcarolles, Impromptus, Waltzes, Mazurkas and the odd Nocturne and Bolero: a very Chopinesque kind of selection, albeit without sonatas.

Mikuli’s first Op.8 Polonaise brings one up short with its quotation from the rather better known Chopin Polonaise in F sharp minor Op.44, a tribute if ever there was one. Of the ten Piano Pieces Op.24, Hubert Rutkowski has selected the last four and of those four the Eighth, an Etude, is bright and virtuosic, the Ninth, a Cantilène seeks – and here finds – a singing tone, and the final Piece, an Impromptu, offers a mixture of virtuosity and poetry. Tellefsen, or Thomas Dyke Ackland Tellefsen, was Norwegian and met Chopin in 1844, studying with him and becoming his copyist. His Waltz in D flat major is deliberately evocative of Chopin, but it’s the four Mazurkas that show the best side of him compositionally, not least the very charming G minor. The F sharp minor is not especially characterful but has a good sense of contrast and its promotion of a richly singing line is also attractive.

Carl Filtsch was not quite fifteen when he died, having studied with Chopin at 11 for a year and a half. Of him Liszt said ‘When this little one begins to tour, I will have to close up shop.’ His G flat major Impromptu might have been dictated by Chopin on a weaker day, whilst his Romanze is rather Mendelssohnian in orientation. The most intriguing work is Das Lebewohl von Venedig, a sensitively constructed character piece. Adolph Gutmann took lessons from Chopin in Paris and became a favourite pupil in the mid 1830s. He was the dedicatee of Chopin’s Scherzo in C sharp minor Op.39. Gutmann shows considerable charm in his three pieces, and Le Réveil des Oiseaux – Idylle in particular would stand up well on the recital stage today.

To all these pieces the young pianist Hubert Rutkowski brings considerable imagination and a sense of flair and colour that are most attractive. He’s been finely recorded as well. If you fancy hearing Chopin’s compositional lineage distilled through four of his favourite pupils, there can be no better way to do it than here.

Jonathan Woolf

If you fancy hearing Chopin’s compositional lineage distilled through four of his favourite pupils, there can be no better way to do it than here.