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Miłosz MAGIN (1929-1999)

Concerto No. 2 for Piano and Orchestra (1964) [21:39]
Concerto for Cello, String orchestra and Timpani (1977) [28:46]
Justine Verdier (piano)
Jaroslaw Domżal (cello)

Orchestra of the Chopin Academy of Music in Warsaw, Bialystok Branch/Jan Milosz Zarzycki
rec. Filharmonia Bialostocka, May 2003, February 2004

I wrote a little of Magin in my review of his solo piano music which was strong on native Polish dance rhythms and influenced in places by Prokofiev. Here we have two concertos which are avowedly reflective of certain influences, among them Prokofiev again, but which manage to retain independence of spirit and form.

The 1964 Piano Concerto is a sprightly work, brightly recorded. It abounds in florid ascending scale and solo delicacy and in the slow movement reveals a limpid delicacy that reminds one of Ravel. There are also hues of Rachmaninov (Second Symphony) in the violin writing and, when Magin spares down the accompaniment, there are Bachian intimations as well. The finale is a fresh, lissom open-air jaunt, hinting at neo-classical Parisian vortex. This is merry and good-natured writing, with plenty of unashamed Romantic chordal flourishes for the soloist and an Oberek dance – a favourite of Magin’s – to whisk things happily away. If you enjoy unashamed music-making, unencumbered by formulae and dictat, Magin makes a most congenial companion. He’s romantic, yes, with a touch of the cool Parisian, but also a pinch of the neo-classical. It works.

The Cello Concerto is a later work and one once more enters the Magin sound-world: optimistic, enhancing, affirmative and joyful. The energetic opening, basically neo-classical, expands into some luxurious romantic themes. Magin gives his soloist some energetic passagework to negotiate and as the movement develops there are hints of the influence of Shostakovich in some of the more satirical passages. The slow movement is quite withdrawn; distinctly Polish - though it reminded me in places of Glazunov – and employing the kujawiak dance rhythm. The finale is based once more on the Oberek. Again there’s a Shostakovich slant to some of the rhythmic impetus and the stalking lyrical lines but by contrast there’s also a broadly optimistic patina, unshadowed and unclouded.

Both soloists revel in these scores. Verdier spins out some grandiose romantic ardour and Domżal combats some of the more testing, intonation-sapping passages in the Cello Concerto. Fine performances all round then especially from the marshalling figure of Jan Milosz Zarzycki. Warm-hearted and generous music-making.

Jonathan Woolf

see also review by Glyn Pursglove

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