This recital was recorded back in 1987, though I’m not
aware it’s been released before. Marek Drenowski enjoys
a distinguished career. He was a pupil, as were so many, of
Zbigniew Drzewiecki at the Warsaw Academy of Music. He was talent
spotted by Bernstein, who invited him to Tanglewood to perform
with the Boston Symphony. And over the years he’s made
a good number of recordings, including Chopin Concertos in their
chamber versions, Weber, Tansman, Szymanowski and much else.
He’s currently professor of piano at the Paris Schola
Cantorum and in Łódż.
He’s a sensitive, thoughtful, broadly unmannered Scarlatti
player. He marries a certain romantic spirit with directness
of expression, which may seem contradictory but seems to work.
Thus his B minor sonata K87/L33 is straight forward and uncomplicated.
It’s much faster, and employs less rubati, than Carlo
Grante in his immense Complete Scarlatti undertaking - on an
Imperial Bösendorfer no less - on Music & Arts, the
first volume of which I reviewed
and greatly admired. If Grante seems to indulge phrases too
much for your liking, then this approach may suit, especially
so, as in the case of the famous D minor K9/L413, when trills
are tight and the direction of the music is astutely gauged.
However Grante’s articulation, on those occasions when
their repertoire duplicates, proves much lighter, more varied
and often considerably more interesting. The F minor K19/L383
reveals that Drenowski’s plain speaking can sometimes
slide into bluntness when listened next to Grante’s crispness
and coloration. In this respect the Polish pianist is not helped
by his recording, which was made in the Concert Hall of the
Pomeranian Philharmonic Orchestra in Bydgoszcz. The engineers
haven’t got in close enough and the sound blurs and billows
much too much, blunting clarity and precision.
Furthermore Drenowski tends to treat the E major K20/L375 as
something of an etude, whereas Grante vests it with aristocratic
wit and harmonic depth. Nor, in the B minor K87/L33, can he
replicate the sense of intimacy, albeit with a sec quality,
generated by Marcelle Meyer in her classic 1955 recordings of
Scarlatti on EMI.
So, this now nearly 25 year old recording isn’t really
much of a contender, unfortunately. The playing is assured if
a bit businesslike, but the recording quality very unsympathetic.