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Ludomir RÓZYCKI (1883-1953)
Piano Quintet in C minor op.35 [41:34]
Rhapsody for violin, cello and piano op.33 [11:03]
Cello Sonata in A minor op.10 [20:03]
Jerzy Godziszewski (piano)
Wilanów String Quartet (Tadeusz Gadzina (1st violin, Quintet, Rhapsody), Pawel Losaskiewicz (2nd violin, Quintet), Ryszard Duz (viola, Quintet), Marian Wasiólka (cello)).
rec. Polish Radio Studio S2, Warsaw, Poland, 17 January 2007 (Sonata), 31 May and 1 June 2008 (Rhapsody), 29-30 April 2010 and 2 July 2010 (Quintet)

This disc is another in Acte Préalable’s burgeoning library of Polish rarities. They’re introducing the public around the world to a whole treasure-house of Polish music that would otherwise be left undiscovered.
I recently had the pleasure of reviewing another disc of Rózycki’s music and said that his “music is unashamedly romantic”. This disc is further proof of that. It is to understand how such music could remain unknown and ignored. Despite these works not receiving their recording premičres here, as was the case with the piano music, they get heard not nearly often enough. I’m sure anyone will feel that when they listen to the piano quintet which is absolutely chock full of irresistibly gorgeous tunes. I’ve read people describe other of his works as “minor” but fail to comprehend exactly what motivates that choice of word; if it means they are not up there with the great works in the genre then I can agree, though what puts works there is not always clear. However, if it means they don’t have the genius for invention that keeps a listener’s interest and involvement then I reject that totally. The piano quartet is not just very listenable but also ravishing for anyone who enjoys basking in delectable music that is romantic in the very best sense of the word. There will have been many composers in the past who would have been only too pleased to have been able to come up with some of the themes in this work. It’s a rich vein in which every tune is full of invention and interest; there’s never a dull moment. Rózycki wrote the first two movements while travelling in France in 1913, completing it in Berlin. It is a full-blooded work that is highly successful as a representative of piano quintet composition and deserves a place in the repertoire and thus to be heard much more often than it is.
The Rhapsody for violin, cello and piano is further proof of this composer’s facility for writing sumptuously delicious tunes. I defy anyone to claim that even the opening few bars do not grab them. Cast as a three section main theme followed by five variations it is a very attractive example of early twentieth century composition that ticks all the right emotional boxes.
The Cello Sonata in A minor is the earliest work of the three on this disc, dating from 1906. In fact it is Rózycki’s first chamber work and was dedicated to Konstanty Sarnecki, a cellist he befriended while he was in Berlin for the first time and who died prematurely only five years later in 1911. It was performed by the composer and its dedicatee, who was also a friend of Karol Szymanowski. Contemporary accounts say that it was well received by audiences, which is unsurprising once you’ve heard it. For a first chamber work it is very impressive and fully harnesses the cello’s deepest and richest tones making for sumptuous listening.
All three works are influenced by the ideas behind the Mloda Polska movement of which Rózycki was an active member and which sought to establish a Polish tradition of music following Chopin’s influence. They are given committed performances by the Wilanów Quartet both collectively and separately together with Polish-born pianist Jerzy Godziszewski. It is to be hoped that with the help of discs such as these the works will find their way back into the repertoire where they belong. This will surely happen if they are taken up by musicians outside Poland. Many will want to once they have heard how attractive they are.
Steve Arloff