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Paul Kochanski – In Memoriam
Pavel KOCHANSKI (1887-1934)

Swit – Down (1920)[4.28]
Dzitki Taniec – Wild Dance (1920) [4.04]
Lot – Flight (1927) [4.39]
Karol SZYMANOWSKI (1882-1937)

Roxanna’s Song from King Roger Op.46 (1926) [6.01]
Dance from Harnasie – ballet Op.55 (1923/31) [6.40]
Joaquin NIN (1879-1949)

Cantos populares españolas (1923) [9.30]
Andaluz, No.4 from Suite espagnole arranged Nin [1.39]
Manuel de FALLA (1876-1946)

Suite from the ballet El amor brujo (1924) [10.31]
Canciones populares españolas Nos. 1,5,6,7,3 and 4 (1914) [12.37]
Antoni SZAŁOWSKI (1907-1973)

Suite for violin and piano (1931) [9.18]
Malina Sarnowska (violin)
Agata Jóźwik (piano)

rec. Polish Radio Studio S2 in Warsaw, July and October 2000
ACTE PRÉALABLE MUZYKA POLSKA AP 0061 [69.57]

Paul Kochanski – I prefer to use the form normally encountered, rather than the more correct Polish Paweł Kochański – was a tragic figure. Dead of cancer at the age of forty-seven he made pitifully few recordings. We must be grateful for his Brahms Op.108 collaboration with his old friend Rubinstein but the handful of acoustic Vocalions barely begins to compensate for the performances that were not recorded, prominent among them Szymanowski whose music he did so much to propagate. It was left to a later generation of Polish violinists to set down their markers on the repertoire – players such as Uminska and Wilkomirska.

This is a tribute disc to Kochanski (1887-1934) and contains arrangements made by the violinist, works written by him (three morceaux) and a work dedicated to him by a young Polish composer, Antoni Szałowski. Clearly the results are top-heavy in terms of arrangements of songs but Kochanski’s skill in this area was genuine; he was resourceful and clever and a number have stood the test of time.

We start with three of his own published works. Szymanowski contributed the piano parts in all cases. Down is an impressionistic piece, a compound of Debussy and Szymanowski, whilst the Wild Dance is full of sly slash and folkloric humour. Flight was inspired by Lindbergh and is an aerial onomatopoeia, with a decidedly warm little tune at its heart, almost spiritual-like. It’s fitting that we have the expected Roxana’s Song from Szymanowski’s King Roger but the less well known Dance from Harnasie is here as well - this arrangement from his ballet-pantomime has really otherwise only been essayed by Wanda Wilkomirska.

The Four Spanish Songs by Nin have been equally neglected and hardly anyone presents them in this violin and piano arrangement, however attractive it may be. The Song from Andalusia is the high point – touchingly realised. El amor brujo might seem an unlikely source from which to quarry an arrangement but it’s the Canciones populares esponalos that has cornered a place in the repertoire, not least for Jota, which everyone plays in Kochanski’s arrangement. The violinist omitted Seguidilla murciana from the set of arrangements.

Antoni Szałowski’s early 1930s sonata is a cosmopolitan one with touches of Parisian Jazz – the composer had come to Paris to study with Nadia Boulanger. Its larky Les Six profile does it no harm, though it’s arguable whether it does it any good; anyway the abrasive finale goes well and at nine minutes it doesn’t hang around.

So, some known quantities and some novelties – all most valuable. I wish I could be as whole-hearted about the performances and recording. There is persistent ambient noise which can be grating. Malina Sarnowska does her best but the Roxana demands are merciless and her tone becomes deadened by the end of it. This coupled with a slow vibrato and some technical weakness (adjacent string touching, bowing problems) mean that the suavity and dash one might have hoped for is missing. The opening of Jota should really have been re-taken – it’s horribly flat – and her playing all too often remains earthbound. These are certainly limiting factors.

Jonathan Woolf

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