Schubert sonatas

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Sigismond STOJOWSKI (1870-1946)
Deux Pensées musicales Op. 1 [7'03]: Mélodie [2'15]; Prélude [4'43]
Deux Orientales Op. 10 [8'54]: Romance: Sostenuto e con molto espressione [4'35]; Caprice: Allegro assai [4'17]
Quatre Morceaux pour piaNo. Op. 26 [10'57]: No. 3 Chant d’amour [4'15]; No. 4 Thème cracovien varié [6'37]
Fantasie Op. 38 [13'57]
Aspirations Op. 39 [14'17]: No. 1 L’aspiration vers l’azur (Prélude) [4'29]; No. 3 L’aspiration vers le caprice (Intermède) [2'22]; No. 4 L’aspiration vers l’amour (Romance) [4'34]; No. 5 L’aspiration vers la joie (Rhapsodie) [2'46]
Variations et Fugue sur un thème original Op. 42 [22'03]
Jonathan Plowright (piano)
rec. Henry Wood Hall, London, 20-22 oct 2003. DDD
HYPERION CDA67437 [77.42]


I was impressed and enchanted by Hyperion's CD of the two Stojowski piano concertos (CDA67314). How could I pass up the chance to review this collection of the solo piano music?

The Deux Pensees Musicales are his Op. 1, approved by his countryman Paderewski and by Léo Délibes. These are succulent morceaux tending to ape Chopin but with a distinctly impressionistic luxuriance. This vein is more eloquently and sometimes more subtly explored in the four pieces from Aspirations Op. 39 (trs.8-11). The Deux Orientales are similarly from his Parisian years, mixing the gentle breath of Romance with the masculine gallop of Caprice. Neither is preciously exotic. From the Op. 26 Morceaux we also get the Chopin-Schuman romance of Chant d'Amour, lovingly rounded by Plowright who has us thinking about Rachmaninov and Medtner from time to time. The difference is that where either of those composers might lean towards profundity of expression, Stojowski usually surrenders to a certain beguiling prettiness. The big Op. 38 Fantasie has a heady spontaneity which made me think of the titled sonatas of Macdowell and the more perfumed section of the four Bax sonatas. This is carried over into the Variations et Fugue sur un thème original Op. 42. This work is dedicated 'a ma très chère femme' where Stojowski approaches Medtner in subtlety of mood and quality of invention. The lento ma non troppo rubato (tr. 20) is outstanding and takes us well into Griffes territory. The icing is blemished by a rather conventional final flourish and the initial stultifying academicism of the Fugue. That said there is much that is instantly and enduringly enjoyable here Throughout Jonathan Plowright gives the unwavering impression of a dedication that reflects joy in discovery.

The strongly structured and detailed notes are by Joseph A Herter. Refreshingly, Herter touches on the Stojowski discography as he moves from work to work.

This is by no means salon piano-stool stuff. Stojowski's currency was counted out in talent-matched ambition as well as commercial pragmatism.

Rob Barnett

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