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Ignacy Feliks DOBRZYNSKI (1807-1867)
String Quintet No.1 in F major Op.20 (post 1835) [33:37]
String Quintet in A minor Op.40 [35:52]
Kwartet Wilanów; Tomasz Strahl (second cello)
rec. January-March 2000, Polish Radio Studio S2, Warsaw

Experience Classicsonline

Once again Acte Préalable mines the rich seam of the Polish repertoire and returns to the surface with cachet. Dobrzynski’s name will be unfamiliar to all but specialists – it was completely unknown to me – but he was clearly one of the body of composers active in the mid-nineteenth century whose works have appeal and validity.
His father was an eminent musician, educated in Vienna, and he gave Ignacy his first lessons. A pianist and putative virtuoso – performing Dusík concertos at nine – his father ensured that he avoided such pitfalls and gave him a secure grounding. He studied in Warsaw between 1826 and 1831, his first compositions emerging in 1824. He was a student of Józef Elsner, whom Chopin is known to have admired. After graduating he composed, conducted and taught, pursuing an all-round musical life, though in later years he devoted himself solely to composition.
The fruits of his creative life can be felt in these two quintets. He wrote trios, quartets and sextets as well – the E flat minor Sextet has indeed been recorded by this company and can be found on AP0067.
The two Quintets are written in the standard four movements. The F major was written some time after 1835. The ethos is somewhere between Arriaga, Mendelssohn and Schubert. There’s freshness and lyricism but also formal control, with melodic lines nicely and adeptly distributed. The Minuet is particularly genial, and its slow, cogitating B section attests to the composer’s sure awareness of contrastive material. This is followed by a slow movement, pertinently and correctly described as doloroso. It opens with pizzicati but gathers itself in sonorous weight. It retains a sense of proportion though; no gestures are outsize or outré. The finale is airy, the dance gestures sprucely determined.
The companion quintet was presumably written not too long after the F major. Once again elegant dance themes are a recurring feature, and there are some lightly burnished rococo flourishes as well. The Kwartet Wilanów and Tomasz Strahl play this with real ardour, and one feels them responding to this work with especial intimacy. One senses in fact that they see it as the more commanding of the two quintets. Its scherzo mixes the earnest and the lyric. The scherzo is engaging, and the finale confident – indeed bordering on the ebullient.
Once more fine performances, committed ones, are complemented by good recorded sound. There isn’t much about the works in the notes and certain aspects of Dobrzynski’s life seem to have been obscure, but the end result is highly satisfying. If one thinks of his near contemporaries – Glinka, Berlioz, Adam, Bellini, Chopin, and Mendelssohn among them (let’s not even cite Kalliwoda, Lortzing, Saint-Lubin, Benedict and Arriaga) – it’s not surprising that he has been effaced. But these performances do him proud.
Jonathan Woolf

see also review by David Blomenberg

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