This is a contrasting recital of Polish music
for violin and piano with two romantic works squaring up to
a work of unreservedly modernistic attributes.
Paderewski's sonata is a grand effort
written in a style that is part gypsy-folk, part Brahmsian and
part neo-romantic. Brahms liked the piece, commenting that it
was not chamber music but a 'concert sonata'. He must also have
recognised the influence of his own writing in the piano part.
It is in three movements, the first of which is almost as long
as the other two movements put together. Szreder (b. 1946, Deblin,
Poland) attacks the piece with gusto underlining its drama though
not so concerned with subtlety. Strobel (b. 1946, Gdansk), is
just as demonstrative. There are pools of classical calm as
in 2.40 of the andantino. Szreder is not afraid of laying
on the sentimentality with a spade but there is humour there
too as in the cheeky ending of the andantino. Such a
pity that the Violin Concerto on which Paderewski was reported
to have been working in his last years was never completed.
You will like this piece if the Franck or Lekeu sonatas are
amongst your favourites; even better if you have a penchant
for Sarasate's Zigeunerweiser and the gypsy influences
It is less of a stone's throw than you might
think between a Paderewski sonata of 1880 and the Szymanowski
sonata of 1904. The Szymanowski is an early work from the
time when he was studying with that arch-romantic Zygmunt Noskowski.
It too is in three movements but the colours are more finely
graded than in its Paderewskian predecessor and it is not quite
as tempestuously dramatic as the Paderewski. It strikes large-scale
gestures (with some suggestion of the macabre in the finale)
but is much readier for reflection and at moments such as 5.14
in the patetico section of the first movement reaches
out towards the Mythes and the first violin concerto.
His decorative rhapsodically embellished style of the later
years meets his straight-talking romanticism in the lovely andantino
tranquillo e dolce with a surprising and fascinating staccato-pizzicato
Lutoslawski's Partita is stylistically
remote from both of the other works. Written for the St Paul
Chamber Orchestra, Pinchas Zukerman and Marc Neikrug, it is
in five movements in that peculiar blend of raving folksiness,
mosaic faultlines, wayward mood and fractured belligerence.
The big (7.35) largo (tr 9) emotionally 'anchors' the
work to the romantic mangroves whose exposed roots claw and
grip deep into the rotted down compost of nationalism and romance.
The work would have worked better as a contrasting interlude
between the other two works. Strangely the Allegro giusto,
Largo and Presto are separated from each other
by two ad libitum brevities, one lasting 1.20; the other
Szreder and Strobel are extremely accomplished
virtuosic players whose skills are well demonstrated by three
vertiginously demanding works. Lovers of the grand romantic
gesture must hear both the Paderewski and the Szymanowski.
M. de Wouters d'Oplinter's Pavane label has
come in for some stick from colleague reviewers. I must have
been luckier. For me the label has yielded up a superb Violin
Sonata by Joseph Marx (we are still awaiting the second Marx
disc from Pavane), the 1920s violin sonatas of Antheil, their
Markevich piano music and a gloriously vital coupling of the
first two Tchaikovsky piano concertos played in Buenos Aires
by Petukhov for which I would happily trade in many a worshipped
studio-perfect celebrity effort. Do not underestimate this label
and its ability to surprise and delight.