Witold Maliszewski was a musical conservative; ironically, he taught Lutosławski who, nonetheless, spoke highly of him. His chamber output is small – three string quartets, a quintet and the violin sonata – and are products of his younger years. For anyone who likes their music lyrical, wistful, elegant, his Violin Sonata ticks all the boxes. A gentle Adagio molto
(arguably taken a little too andante
by the performers) follows an opening Allegro cantabile
that certainly lives up to its name. The third and final movement, amounting to half the total length, is a theme with seven variations, taking the listener back to long before Maliszewski was even born. Not cutting edge material, then, but – as with his own teacher, Rimsky-Korsakov - beautiful music likely to enchant any audience from any age.
The Four Pieces op.20 are a similarly amiable work: warm, good-natured, humorous, graceful. Though written twenty years after the sonata, through its four movements - Intrada (Air), Serenade, Romance and Waltz – it stylises, almost sentimentalises, historical forms. Acte Préalable (AP) boss Jan Jarnicki writes that the manuscript of the first two movements was "almost illegible [and] had to be edited for the sake of the recording." The last two are transcriptions, having originally been written for cello rather than violin. Józef Kolinek's ostensibly bizarre replacement of Anna Orlik for the final movement of this work is in fact perfectly rational, as Jarnicki elucidates. Orlik had recorded with Ławrynowicz the three pieces that had been available at the time, but Jarnicki subsequently tracked down the fourth movement before the project had gone to press. With Orlik now unavailable, Kolinek stepped in to record it.
Ławrynowicz herself is a veteran of 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). Whether or not she is "considered one of the greatest Polish pianists", as the booklet claims, she is as poised as she is dedicated and reliable.
Sound quality is commendable too. Polish Radio's recordings often seem to come with microphones just slightly too far off for optimum pick-up, and this one is no different; but the fact will surely be of very little consequence to anyone. The accompanying notes are informative and reasonably well translated from the Polish. The front-cover print is by late-nineteenth-century Polish realist painter Józef Chefmonski; by way of bonus, the booklet offers a short biography of him.
Finally, there is more Maliszewski to look forward to from Acte Préalable: his 'Complete Works for Piano' are imminently due for release on AP0320.
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