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Miłosz MAGIN (1929-1999)
Piano Works Volume 1
Triptyque polonaise (1967) [7.37]
Trois Pièces Caractéristiques (1948) [5.29]
Sonata No.2 (1981) [22.08]
Miniatures Polonaises (1982) [5.35]
Images d’Enfants (1952) [9.25]
Cinq Préludes (1963) [9.15]
Magdalena Adamek (piano)
rec. Polish Radio Studio S2 Warsaw, April 2000.


Magin’s name may better known through the piano competition named in his honour, which he founded in 1985. He was in fact an executant-composer of distinction and it was only the serious injuries sustained in a car crash that prevented him from having a much more widely known career as a pianist. He’d certainly swept up a raft of prestigious international awards and had embarked upon a recording career as well. The startling realignment of his career however gave impetus to his compositional work and some of the fruits are here.

His writing is steeped in Polish lore: rhythms and dance music. The 1967 Triptyque polonaise has colouristic infusions and plenty of vivacity but the most startling of the three is the Oberek finale. This is a motoric affair characteristic of his writing generally - see his very attractive concertos - and one that turns this into a sort of Polish boogie.

The Trois Pièces Caractéristiques date from his apprentice years and far pre-figure that ruinous car crash. He was nineteen when he wrote these rhythmically high-spirited little pieces, the Polka of which is decidedly larky.

The Second Sonata dates from his full maturity. It moves from the declamatory to the limpid, embraces the fugal, and is lucidly written and emotively strong. The scherzo is full of dynamism whilst the slow movement is broadly clement but for an increasingly flourishing and chordal outburst. The finale reveals a debt to Prokofiev but is independent minded enough to survive the comparison.

Elsewhere we encounter the charming and guile-less Miniatures Polonaises, completed in 1982, the year after the second sonata. They are supple and very light. The Images d’Enfants is earlier and rather more involved. I was taken by the mysterious calm at the centre of the third, La grotte de glace, and by the chiming treble that gives such pictorial life to Le Chinois en porcelaine though pretty lyricism is never far away, as the concluding Berceuse shows.

The Preludes include vague reveille hints and reminiscences of Chopin – the concluding Prestissimo in particular – but they do make for an attractive and relatively undemanding envoi.

The performances sound well prepared and highly proficient and the sound quality in the radio studio is not the kind of chilly one that one might fear. Concise notes. Magin’s was an attractive voice, traditional, advancing not a step beyond Prokofiev, but full of good cheer, and warmth.

Jonathan Woolf

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