Andrzej KOSZEWSKI (b.1922) Trio for violin, cello and piano (1950)* [28:49]
Tadeusz SZELOGOWSKI (1899-1963) Trio for piano, violin and cello* [22:57]
Andrzej PANUFNIK (1914-1991) Piano Trio [16:46]
Poznan Piano Trio (Laura Sobolewska (piano), Anna Ziólkowska (violin), Dagny Czarnecka (cello))
rec. Studio S1 Polish Radio, Warsaw, Poland, 25-28 October 2009
*World Première recordings
This disc is one of a clutch that I have had the good fortune to review recently. They have come from the stable of Acte Préalable, a Polish CD company that describes itself as the “Leading label promoting Polish music and musicians”. If what I have seen so far is anything to go by the claim is valid. As noted above this disc includes two world première recordings which show the label’s commitment to its aims. In fact it was the musicians that found those two compositions and the label’s Artistic Director and Producer Jan Jarnicki was only too pleased to record them.
Andrzej Koszewski is pictured in the booklet at the piano surrounded by the three trio members so, since he wrote his trio in 1950, he must be pleased to have it recorded at last. It’s surprising that it hasn’t been recorded before because it is an excellent work. The trio opens with a movement marked Adagietto. Allegro patetico which is quite animated even agitated. The second, Andantino con moto, is a rocking lullaby by comparison. Its central motif is a memorable and beautiful little tune that sits well between the two outer movements. The final Sostenuto. Allegro giusto is a complete contrast which embodies elements of each of the preceding two plus a passing reference to Chopin. The booklet states that this trio is among “... the relatively modest group of instrumental pieces that Koszewski wrote” since he is known principally for his choral music and that it was treated as “practice of the styles of the past eras”. When you hear this you will I’m sure feel as sad as I did that he did not write more.
Tadeusz Szeligowski was a lawyer who turned to music only in his thirties and yet was proficient enough to also teach Koszewski among others. Szeligowski was yet another pupil of Nadia Boulanger during which time he took to heart the spirit of the French tradition. This was the same tradition that had as its motto that music should give pleasure to the composer for a job well done and then to the listener who could admire the ability of the composer and the performing musicians. Szeligowski’s piano trio was written in 1955-56 towards the end of his life - later then than his pupil Koszewski’s. It was an attempt to experiment with twelve-tone technique but not in such a wholesale way that the overall impression is not more neo-classical than anything else. It does have a more “modern” sound than his pupil’s but that’s as far as it goes. The work as a whole is generally one full of lyricism and good tunes.
The final work on the disc is by one of Poland’s best known and well respected composers, Andrzej Panufnik. Though born in 1914 between the two other composers, he wrote his trio when only 22 and fresh from the Conservatory. It was given its première in 1936 with no less a person at the piano than Mieczyslaw Weinberg. The booklet states that contemporary reviewers considered it so romantic in feel that they associated it with Brahms and it’s not hard to see why. I wonder what those same reviewers had to say about Panufnik’s potential because this work promises much for the young composer’s future, a promise thoroughly fulfilled throughout his life. The trio is extremely beautiful and abounds in brilliance. We are fortunate that despite being burnt along with much else during the Warsaw Uprising of 1944 he managed to reconstruct it afterwards. It was not published until 1977.
The booklet poses an interesting couple of questions: if the listener played the disc in the order the works were written would they find the work written last more difficult to understand than the earlier ones. Would the fact that two were written by “students” and one by a teacher be obvious? Well my response is no to both.
To me the disc is of three highly successful and enjoyable piano trios that show that the great Polish musical tradition that reached its zenith with Chopin was still alive and well in the twentieth century as evidenced further by the likes of Lutoslawski, Penderecki, Weinberg, Szymanowski, Tansman, Gorecki, Baird and many more and that it continues today. These works have been very well recorded and are beautifully played by this young trio who have launched their recording career with this disc. I wish them every success. I look forward to more discoveries from Acte Préalable.
Steve Arloff
Highly successful and enjoyable piano trios, very well recorded and beautifully played.