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Zygmunt STOJOWSKI (1870-1946)
Violin Concerto in G minor, Op. 22 (1899) [30:25]
Romanze in E flat major, Op.20 (pub 1901) [6:40]
Henryk WIENIAWSKI (1835-1880)
Fantaisie brillante sur des motifs de l’opéra Faust de Gounod, Op.20 (1865) [18:48]
Bartłomiej Nizioł (violin)
BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra/Łukasz Borowicz
rec. June 2015, City Halls, Candleriggs, Glasgow
HYPERION CDA68102 [55:56]

Zygmunt Stojowski has enjoyed Hyperion’s patronage before, as the Piano Concertos form volume 28 of their Romantic Piano Concerto series (review) and Jonathan Plowright – the executant there - has also recorded an album of the solo piano music for the label (review). So it was high time that they reached Stojowski’s Violin Concerto in G minor, which crowns Volume 20 in the corresponding Romantic Violin Concerto series.

First performed in 1900 in Paris, this is a late-Romantic concerto par excellence. The material is fluent, the general tenor of the music suggesting knowledge of, and affinity with, the Dvořák Concerto. The solo musing and pirouetting is highly addictive, not least when that pirouetting is over gently folkloric winds. Stojowski cannily introduces the occasional unaccompanied violin passage but he summons up some devastatingly beautiful writing too – listen from 10:40 for one of the concerto’s high points and evidence of the composer’s significant lyric gifts. The slow movement is a rich, luxuriant lied strongly steeped in the violin lineage, the harp’s deft commentaries showing how perceptive is Stojowski’s orchestration. Somewhat analogous to the finale of Brahms and Dvořák Violin Concertos, the finale has a folk-influenced dance. Soloist Bartłomiej Nizioł plays with ripe tonal variety and pinpoint passagework alike. He is fully attuned to the romantic ethos of this work.

As he is indeed in the Romanze, Op.20, which is dedicated to Jacques Thibaud. It was possibly intended by the composer as a kind of musical souvenir to commemorate the first meeting of composer and violinist in Warsaw. Compact – and again saturated in lyric richness, though not here voluptuousness – the slow start becomes incrementally more passionate.

Thirty-seven minutes worth of Stojowski has been augmented here by Wieniawski’s Fantaisie brillante sur des motifs de l’opéra Faust de Gounod. Whilst Wieniawski is a fellow Pole - Josef Gingold once called him the violinistic equivalent of Chopin - his showpiece is a very different kettle of fish to Stojowski’s works. Cast in the popular genre of nineteenth-century operatic showpiece, Nizioł plays it with panache and control. That said, he would be hard pressed to challenge Leonid Kogan in this work. The latter’s 1957 live performance with Chalabala conducting offers threadbare sonics but intensity, as well as a regal sense of phrasing and of colour.

A ground-breaking premiere disc of the Concerto from Agnieszka Marucha on Acte Prealable (review) coupled both the Stojowski pieces played here with the big Violin Sonata No.2 which had the virtue of bringing together most of his major surviving violin pieces in one disc. Nizioł and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra under Łukasz Borowicz however have produced a winning disc, warmly recorded and equally warmly recommended.

Jonathan Woolf

Previous review: Rob Barnett



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