is that of an ardent singer and that
song can be heard strongly through the
soprano voice in Krol Roger (wonderfully
recorded on CD Accord - review)
and as here through that most soprano-vocal
of string instruments, the violin.
If you do not know
the Szymanowski violin sonata you are
in for a treat if you like ambitious
and turbulently romantic pieces. Waves
of emotion crash and surge through this
achingly volcanic piece. That it was
written in 1904 and premiered by Pawel
Kochanski and Artur Rubinstein in Warsaw
in 1909 comes as no surprise. If you
have a taste for the cello sonatas of
Rachmaninov or Foulds or the epic violin
sonatas of Benjamin Dale, Medtner and
Miaskovsky then you must hear this disc
and this recording which is direct,
subtle and brimming with unruly emotional
force. Bakowski embraces the spirited
aggression called for in the finale.
and evanescent Lullaby is cut
from the same evocative cloth as the
First Violin Concerto. It was written
in St Jean de Luz. Related in mood is
the Song of Roxana from Krol
Roger as transcribed by Pawel Kochanski.
This is projected with utmost subtlety.
A lightly applied yet steady bow sustains
a magical enchantment; a lovely performance.
Fascinating how these two very fine
artists manage with equal conviction
the glorious afflatus of the sonata
and the perfumed garden that is the
Lullaby and Roxana’s Song.
a ballet for soloists, chorus and orchestra
- a late work and one which I have long
loved ever since delighting in the ecstatic
song of the brigands in the Rediffusion
Aurora LP version in which the ballet
is conducted complete by Witold Rowicki.
As is to be expected from a work dating
from 1931 the Dance of the Harnasie
is fully mature Szymanowski and
radiates poetic isolation and a volatile
tendency to ecstatic expression. Once
again it was transcribed by Kochanski.
The Nocturne is
the first of two movements from Op.
28. In its introduction it looks forward
to the poetic haze of the Symphony No.
3 Song of the Night. Later this
settles into a sort of all-purpose Havanaise-flavoured
atmosphere. On this disc the whirl,
spiccato, abrasion and pungent smoke
of Tarantella is separated by
two tracks from its partner Nocturne.
Lastly come the Three
Myths - symphonic poems for violin
and piano written in Zarudz in 1915.
These are wonderfully played by the
duo who masterfully catch the steady
yet responsively pliant pacing and mystical
communion inherent in these pieces.
The quintessential illusion of the performance
being swayed by the spontaneity of the
moment is fully intact. For years I
have revered the Kaja Danczowska recording
on a Deutsche Grammophon LP (was it
ever reissued? - I would love to hear
that version again). This Bakowski version
now stands in that company and the present
disc of course also carries the considerable
advantage of being generously timed
and carrying the complete Szymanowski
music for violin and piano. Bakowski
conjures an almost orchestral effect
in the Pan and the Dryads movement.
If only Szymanowski had had the time
and intention to orchestrate these three
pieces. They would have made a third
The best of this extremely
fine music stands in the same company
as Griffes (White Peacock and
Pleasure Dome), Scriabin, Foulds
(Avatara), Sorabji, Van Dieren
(Chinese Symphony - will that
ever be recorded) and Bax (Spring
The liner-notes in
English and Polish are by Bohdan Pociej.
The complete Szymanowski
for the genre matchlessly presented
- Bakowski is a real discovery.
This is an invaluable
collection unmatched by any other CD
in the catalogue both in its coverage
and the multi-faceted artistry of Bakowski