Fryderyk CHOPIN (1810-1849)
Nocturne in E flat major, op.9 no.2 (arr. Pablo de Sarasate) [4:28]
Etude in E major, op.10 no.3 (arr. K. Weksler/M. Blum) [4:23]
Etude in F minor, op.25 no.2 (arr. Willy Burmester) [1:56]
Prelude in B flat major, op.28 no.21 (arr. Gustaw Adolfson) [2:29]
Prelude in E minor, op.28 no.4 (arr. Gustaw Adolfson) [2:17]
Mazurka in D/A major, op.33 no.2 (arr. Fritz Kreisler) [1:58]
Mazurka in B minor, op.33 no.4 (arr. J. Ebner) [3:49]
Mazurka in A minor, op.67 no.4 (arr. Antoni Cofalik) [3:15]
Nocturne in B flat minor, op.9 no.1 (arr. Karol Lipinski) [7:26]
Nocturne in C sharp minor - Lento con gran espressione (arr. Antoni Cofalik) [4:45]
Nocturne in D flat/D major, op.27 no.2 (arr. August Wilhelmj) [6:26]
Nocturne in E flat major, op.55 no.2 (arr. Camille Saint-SaŽns) [5:08]
Jaroslaw KORDACZUK (b.1967)
Sostenuto: Hommage ŗ Chopin (2009) [5:23]
Jolanta Stopka (violin)
Magdalena Blum (piano)
rec. November - December 2009, Polish Radio Studio S1. Warsaw, DDD
ACTE PR…ALABLE AP0208 [53:48]

Iím not aware that there are many discs of violin transcriptions of Chopinís music. Certainly many recitals will contain a spicy arrangement or two Ė say one of Kreislerís, or the famous Sarasate of the Nocturne in E flat major, Op.9 No.2, but a whole 50 or so minutes is a new experience for me.

The transcriptions vary between the very famous and the unknown. Violinist Jolanta Stopka and pianist Magdalena Blum start with the best known, Sarasateís, and take it from there. Her vibrato can be a bit slow, and so too her trills, and this imparts a degree of tremulousness to some of the playing. For a lark, I dug out the transcriberís own 1904 recording: what panache, what elastic rubati, what tight, fast trills! Perhaps the second best known is Wilhelmjís arrangement of the Op.27 No.2 Nocturne. She plays this with delicate, refined almost perfumed sincerity. It certainly makes a real change to hear Mischa Elmanís 1919 recording, all expressive generosity and manly confidence.

Pianist Blum and someone called K. Weksler have jointly transcribed the Op.10 No.3 Etude. Here they run the gauntlet of a big ask. I waited to see what theyíd do with the pianistís contrary motion octaves. Answer? Nothing. They leave it with the piano. Fair enough, I suppose, but overall itís a bit of a queasy arrangement. I wish Willy Burmester, Teutonic curmudgeon and self-promoter extraordinaire, had recorded his transcription of the F minor Etude. In fact, few ever have. There are two transcriptions by one G. Adolfson or, as the notes donít tell us, Adolf Gustav Sonnenfeld, who cleverly reassembled his names to construct his pseudonym. He took the Op.28 No.4 Prelude, an especially beautiful piece of music, which just about survives the transcription. Stopka veils her tone usefully here.

I was expecting the Kreisler version of the A minor Mazurka but instead we get one by Antoni Cofalik, a contemporary Polish violin player and pedagogue; effectively done. The longest transcription is of the Nocturne Op.9 No.1 by Karol Lipinksi (1790-1861), a famous Polish virtuoso, and it works quite well in its leisurely way. And there is a pendant, Sostenuto, a Chopin Ďhomageí by composer Jaroslaw Kordaczuk (b.1967) that includes some discreetly stomping Tatra folklore.

At the end of the A minor Mazurka (the Cofalik arrangement) thereís a startling moment, reminiscent of old unedited 78 days, when Stopka accidentally hits a string and says something, probably to the control booth.

Itís an interesting idea, an all-Chopin transcription album, but somewhat variably executed.

Jonathan Woolf

Interesting idea: an all-Chopin transcription album but variably executed.