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Ignacy Jan PADEREWSKI (1860-1941)
Violin Sonata in A minor (1880) [25.43]
Karol SZYMANOWSKI (1882-1937)

Violin Sonata in A minor (1904) [21.49]
Witold LUTOSLAWSKI (b.1913)

Partita for violin and piano (1984) [17.11]
Robert Szreder (violin)
Boguslaw Jan Strobel (piano)
rec Aug 1992, Polish Radio Studio 2, Warsaw, DDD
PAVANE ADW 7283 [65.26]

 

Experience Classicsonline

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 in Enescu.

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 section.

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 0.55.

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.

 

Rob Barnett



 



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