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Ignacy Feliks DOBRZYŃSKI (1807-1867)
Chamber Works with Piano - 2
Fantaisie, for violin and piano, op.32 [17:19]
Introduction and Variations, for violin and piano, op.9 [20:12]
Les Larmes, for violin and piano, op.41 (1843) [6:57]
Souvenir de Dresde, for violin, cello and piano, op.47 (1846) [8:20]
Introduction and Variations, for flute and piano, op.18 (1831) [15:14]
Andante e Rondo alla Polacca, for flute and piano, op.42 [11:55]
Les Explorateurs (Joanna Ławrynowicz (piano); Anna Orlik (violin); Łukasz Tudzierz (cello); Jagoda Sokolowska-O'Donovan (flute))
rec. Polish Radio, Warsaw, 13-14 October 2012 (opp. 41, 47), 23-24 February 2013 (opp. 32, 9), 27-28 April 2013 (opp. 18, 42).
ACTE PREALABLE AP0279 [79:59]  

"The wonderful discoveries that I have made during my research on neglected repertoire often make me wonder why it is that so much beautiful Polish music has fallen into oblivion" - thus writes Acte Préalable (AP) impresario Jan Jarnicki in his customary preamble for the CD booklet. Music-lovers who have bought previous AP discs will have asked themselves the same question - how to account rationally for the big repertoire gap between Chopin and Szymanowski, and again between Szymanowski and Penderecki/Górecki. The names capable of filling those holes are legion, a fact to which many previous AP recordings are persuasive testimony. 

This new disc is the second and - for now at least - last volume dedicated to the chamber music of one of those composers, Ignacy Dobrzyński. Volume one itself only came out a few weeks ago. Jarnicki writes that he "discovered Dobrzyński left behind a vast legacy of chamber pieces", but this is something of an overstatement - the present volume and the first, incidentally one of AP's finest recordings to date (review), constitute the complete works of those written to include a piano, apart from a Clarinet Duo in A. According to Jarnicki, that work may yet appear on a future volume, but since last year it has actually been available on another entrepreneurial Polish label, DUX (0857). Roman Widaszek's account of this delightful piece would in fact be a difficult one to upstage.
 
For all that Dobrzyński continues to impress here - sounding at times not unlike early Schubert or Wieniawski - this second disc is less compelling than the first, despite its highly generous running time, for two reasons. First, three of the works, opp. 18, 41 and 47, are the same, bar a change of instrumentation - these are alternative versions, albeit the notes are not always clear which ones were made or sanctioned by the composer.
 
Second, the flautist Jagoda Sokolowska-O'Donovan is not convincing, especially in the Andante e Rondo alla Polacca, where she initially seems to let nerves get the better of her. Her wrong notes right at the beginning are the worst of it, but it takes her a long while to settle down. She is on improved form in the op.18 Introduction and Variations, but there are still articulatory and intonational impurities that make a second listen-through a less appealing proposition.
 
The other musicians all appeared on volume one, where they were excellent without exception. Les Explorateurs is a chamber ensemble based around pianist Joanna Ławrynowicz, with guest musicians coming in according to the requirements of works at hand. Ławrynowicz has recorded over thirty CDs for AP spanning more than a decade, and was apparently the first Pole to record the complete works of Chopin (also for AP). As previously, the performances of Ławrynowicz, Łukasz Tudzierz and Anna Orlik are poised and nicely coloured. 

Sound quality is very good once more - unsurprisingly, in fact, as some of the works were recorded alongside those on volume one. The accompanying Polish-English notes are informative, although the translation does come with a mild foreign accent. Performer biographies are effusive: Ławrynowicz, for example, is "considered one of the greatest Polish pianists". Also included is an extended biography of the talented cover art painter.
 
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