Acte Préalable bills itself as the "leading label promoting
Polish music and musicians". As Nikolai Potolovsky and
Ivan Krizhanovsky are both Russians - though the latter was
born in Kyiv - this new release is presumably a showcase for
the soloists, especially cellist Jaroslaw Domzal, who gets four
times as much space as Lubow Nawrocka for his biography and
Domzal is certainly a fine cellist, at least on the evidence
of this sparkling recital - though this is in fact his seventh
CD for Act Préalable - and he is well supported by the more
experienced Nawrocka in this, her second recording for the label.
Yet what makes this CD special is the superb music of Krizhanovsky,
whose surname, incidentally, is more frequently and more consonantly
transliterated 'Kryzhanovsky', and especially of Potolovsky.
Their two Cello Sonatas are expressive, lyrical, life-affirming,
with a hint of nostalgia: musically situated somewhere in a
triangle formed by Saint-Saëns, Brahms and Tchaikovsky. Not
particularly Russian, nor indeed Polish, except that they are
straight out of the mainstream of late Romanticism - and none
the worse for it.
Neither composer has an entry in Oxford Music Online - both
are mentioned in passing only in their dealings with more prominent
names - and little if any of their music has been recorded before.
In this regard Jan Jarnicki, a friend of Domzal's, deserves
considerable plaudits for uncovering these scores. In his own
words he spends "a vast amount of time scrutinising all
kinds of publishing houses, libraries and other collections
from all around the world in search of forgotten pieces of music
somehow related to Poland." The connection in this case
is tenuous, to say the least: "their names sounded very
much Polish"; but their music speaks a pan-European language
of drama, passion, delicious harmony and lovely melody. Potolovsky
in particular, evidently a great pedagogue and excellent cellist,
must rank as a great find: if this is what his op.2 is like
- and the Cello Sonata really is outstanding - the rest of his
music must be sought out and recorded for posterity without
Sound quality is very impressive, and the string player's breathing
- the marring of many a chamber recording - only very occasionally
noticeable. There is a momentary blip in the slow movement of
the Potolovsky, either electronic or caused by Domzal, it is
hard to tell, but otherwise this is one of Acte Préalable's
best efforts. The CD booklet has the usual AP quality glossy
feel to it, with a canny advertisement for 18 previous releases!
Domzal is good with the cello, but not at writing about it in
English - his notes are an attempt, valiant but irksome, at
an academic register that is 90% guff. He also asserts that
Krizhanovsky and Potolovsky "came from Poland and worked
in Russia", yet his own biography of the latter later states
that he was born in Moscow and spent most of his life there.
Acte Préalable discs rarely give more than an hour's worth of
music, and this one is unfortunately no exception, but when
the music is this genial, and performed so well, such matters
must be overlooked.
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