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Karol SZYMANOWSKI (1882–1937)
The Complete Solo Piano Music
CD1
Prelude in C sharp minor (1901) [03:13]
Nine Preludes, Op. 1 (1900) [17:00]
Variations in B flat minor, Op. 3 (1901–03) [10:17]
Four Studies, Op. 4 (1900–02) [13:12]
Sonata No. 1 in C minor, Op. 8 (1903–04) [28:02]
CD2

Variations on a Polish Theme, Op. 10 (1900–04) [18:59]
Fantasy in F minor, Op. 14 (1905) [13:18]
Prelude and Fugue in C sharp minor (1905-09) [06:43]
Sonata No. 2 in A, Op. 21 (1910–11) [26:23]
CD3
Métopes, Op. 29 (1915) [15:31]
Twelve Studies, Op. 33 (1916) [13:16]
Masques, Op. 34 (1915–16) [20:21]
Sonata No. 3, Op. 36 (1917) [18:02]
CD4
Twenty Mazurkas, Op. 50 (1924–25) [50:07]
Romantic Waltz (1925) [04:03]
Four Polish Dances (1926) [09:00]
Two Mazurkas, Op. 62 (1934) [06:00]
Sinae Lee (piano)
rec. Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, Glasgow, Sept 2002 - Feb 2005.
Sinae Lee (piano)
Full track details at end of review

THE DIVINE ART 21400 [4 CDs: 71:46 + 65:25 + 67:12 + 69:13]


It was about 1983 when I first heard of Szymanowski. I’d been at a concert at the Festival Hall in London and on the way out I was given a tape of his music by a publicity agent. It was entitled ‘Karol Szymanowski, the last romantic’. Whilst there’s no denying his music is extremely romantic – more so than many who came before him, there are plenty of other contemporaries of his who outlived him who could easily be classed in the same way – Medtner for example. What is certain, however, is that Szymanowski’s music is highly individual in style and fiendishly difficult to play well enough to do it the credit it indisputably deserves. However, there is no such issue in this case as Sinae Lee is simply jaw-droppingly good with a delivery that is staggering in its ability to bring out the nuances within the music. And when you consider that this is her debut recording then I for one cannot wait for more from her. I freely admit that I am not a pianist and therefore cannot comment on the mechanics involved in bringing works like these off. I would refer readers to the excellent and far more detailed review by pianist Raymond Clarke, whose own recording of the three sonatas was justly highly praised. He has said everything about these recordings that can be said and when you listen to the music whilst reading his review you can hear what he means and this enhances the listening experience even more. I make my comments as a lowly listener who is struck by Sinae Lee’s wonderful and seemingly effortless control, immaculate phrasing and beautiful colouration, resulting in performances I’ve never heard equalled. I have to share his disappointment with Martin Jones’s recording of the complete piano works for Nimbus which I enjoyed well enough until the present set came my way. In many ways it’s like hearing them completely afresh as if a veil has been lifted and the works take on a new meaning. As Raymond Clarke says this music has obviously been meticulously prepared in an individual way that allows each piece to show its own value whilst remaining part of a complete body of work. Lee prepared these performances as part of her Ph.D. - just imagine how the tutors felt when presented with work such as this! If there are any lovers of Szymanowski’s music who have not yet bought this set then I can assure them that there is no excuse for hesitation as they will find it a truly rewarding experience. The same goes for anyone who enjoys late romantic piano music but is yet to discover the unique sound world of this genuinely original composer.
Steve Arloff


Detailed Track Listing

CD1
01. Prelude in C sharp minor (1901) 03:13
Nine Preludes, Op. 1 (1900) 17:00
02. Prelude, Op. 1 No. 1 – Andante ma non troppo 02:01
03. Prelude, Op. 1 No. 2 – Andante con moto 02:12
04. Prelude, Op. 1 No. 3 – Andantino 01:18
05. Prelude, Op. 1 No. 4 – Andantino con moto 01:13
06. Prelude, Op. 1 No. 5 – Allegro molto, impetuoso 01:03
07. Prelude, Op. 1 No. 6 – Lento, mesto 02:39
08. Prelude, Op. 1 No. 7 – Moderato 02:18
09. Prelude, Op. 1 No. 8 – Andante ma non troppo 01:50
10. Prelude, Op. 1 No. 9 – Lento, mesto 02:23
11. Variations in B flat minor, Op. 3 (1901–03) 10:17
Four Studies, Op. 4 (1900–02) 13:12
12. Study, Op. 4 No. 1 – Allegro moderato 03:45
13. Study, Op. 4 No. 2 – Allegro molto 01:39
14. Study, Op. 4 No. 3 – Andante 04:34
15. Study, Op. 4 No. 4 – Allegro 01:13
Sonata No. 1 in C minor, Op. 8 (1903–04) 28:02
16. Allegro moderato – agitato 07:18
17. Adagio, molto tranquillo e dolce – più mosso, agitato 06:14
18. Tempo di minuetto, comodo 04:00
19. Introduzione, adagio – quasi tempo di marcia – fuga – allegro energico 10:30
CD2
01. Variations on a Polish Theme, Op. 10 (1900–04) 18:59
02. Fantasy in F minor, Op. 14 (1905) 13:18
03. Prelude and Fugue in C sharp minor (1905-09) 06:43
Sonata No. 2 in A, Op. 21 (1910–11) 26:23
04. Allegro assai – molto appassionato 08:34
05. Theme and Variations 17:49
CD3
Métopes, Op. 29 (1915) 15:31
01. The Isle of Sirens 05:45
02. Calypso 05:25
03. Nausicaa 04:17
Twelve Studies, Op. 33 (1916) 13:16
04. Study, Op. 33 No. 1 – Presto 01:00
05. Study, Op. 33 No. 2 – Andantino soave 01:13
06. Study, Op. 33 No. 3 – Vivace assai 00:33
07. Study, Op. 33 No. 4 – Presto 01:17
08. Study, Op. 33 No. 5 – Andante espressivo 00:58
09. Study, Op. 33 No. 6 – Vivace 00:33
10. Study, Op. 33 No. 7 – Allegro molto 00:44
11. Study, Op. 33 No. 8 – Lento assai mesto 02:03
12. Study, Op. 33 No. 9 – Animato 00:51
13. Study, Op. 33 No. 10 – Presto 01:01
14. Study, Op. 33 No. 11 – Andante soave 01:28
15. Study, Op. 33 No. 12 – Presto 01:29
Masques, Op. 34 (1915–16) 20:21
16. Scheherazade 09:13
17. Tantris the Clown 05:39
18. Don Juan’s Serenade 05:24
Sonata No. 3, Op. 36 (1917) 18:02
19. Presto 06:57
20. Adagio, mesto 04:25
21. Assai vivace, scherzando 00:50
22. Fuga: allegro moderato, scherzando e buffo 05:50
CD4
Twenty Mazurkas, Op. 50 (1924–25) 50:07
01. Mazurka, Op. 50 No. 1 – Sostenuto, molto rubato 01:57
02. Mazurka, Op. 50 No. 2 – Allegramente, poco vivace 02:13
03. Mazurka, Op. 50 No. 3 – Moderato 02:30
04. Mazurka, Op. 50 No. 4 – Allegramente, risoluto 02:30
05. Mazurka, Op. 50 No. 5 – Moderato 02:33
06. Mazurka, Op. 50 No. 6 – Vivace 01:56
07. Mazurka, Op. 50 No. 7 – Poco vivace 01:45
08. Mazurka, Op. 50 No. 8 – Moderato (non troppo) 02:54
09. Mazurka, Op. 50 No. 9 – Tempo moderato 03:24
10. Mazurka, Op. 50 No. 10 – Allegramente, vivace, con brio 02:40
11. Mazurka, Op. 50 No. 11 – Allegretto 01:28
12. Mazurka, Op. 50 No. 12 – Allegro moderato 03:25
13. Mazurka, Op. 50 No. 13 – Moderato 03:20
14. Mazurka, Op. 50 No. 14 – Animato 01:54
15. Mazurka, Op. 50 No. 15 – Allegretto dolce 02:39
16. Mazurka, Op. 50 No. 16 – Allegramente, vigoroso 03:33
17. Mazurka, Op. 50 No. 17 – Moderato 02:25
18. Mazurka, Op. 50 No. 18 – Vivace, agitato 02:48
19. Mazurka, Op. 50 No. 19 – Poco vivace 01:18
20. Mazurka, Op. 50 No. 20 – Allegramente, con brio 02:49
21. Romantic Waltz (1925) 04:03
Four Polish Dances (1926) 09:00
22. Mazurek – Tempo di Mazurka, animato 01:04
23. Krakowiak – Allegretto grazioso 01:22
24. Oberek – Vivace e agitato 03:26
25. Polonaise – Moderato, festivo, pomposo 03:08
Two Mazurkas, Op. 62 (1934) 06:00
26. Mazurka, Op. 62 No. 1 – Allegretto grazioso 2:47
27. Mazurka, Op. 62 No. 2 – Moderato 3:12
Recorded at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, Glasgow between September 2002 and February 2005
Producer: Philip Jenkins
Recording Engineers: Graham Kennedy and Kim Planert
Mastering and post-production: Paul Baily, Re-Sound (UK)
Booklet notes: Alistair Wightman

 


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