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Gems of Eastern Europe
Sergei PROKOFIEV (1891-1953)
Sonata No.2 in D major, Op.94 (1943-1944) [23.59]
Béla BARTÓK (1881-1945)
Rhapsody No 1 (1928) [9.21]
Karol SZYMANOWSKI (1882-1937)
Nocturne and Tarantella op.28 (1915) [10.27]
Kazimierz LEPIANKA (1869-1948)
A Dream (ed.1905) [3.14]
Piotr Tarcholik (violin)
Monika Wilińska-Tarcholik (piano)
rec: NOSPR Chamber Hall, Katowice, October/November 2016
CD ACCORD ACD229-2 [47.20]

This is a valuable and enjoyable release, with significant music and recorded quality, though buyers might hesitate at the short playing time. When classical CDs regularly average somewhere around 70 minutes of music, 47 minutes is thin value, especially as the Prokofiev Sonata No 1 – though longer than No 2 – is well under 30 minutes in the Kremer/Argerich recording, and the Rhapsody No 2 of Bartók is around 11 minutes.

That is the single negative of this fine release. None of the pieces is heard as often as it might, and the first three are significant works by major composers. They share a consciously national flavour, though the Prokofiev is in parts quite sprightly given the desperate times in which it was composed.

The performance here, by the husband-and-wife team of Piotr Tarcholik and Monika Wilińska-Tarcholik is bold, sinewy and characterful, generally a little more measured than in the classic Kremer and Argerich recording of 1996, with the exception of the brief Andante, but with insight and no loss of impetus. From the opening, the new recording catches the lyrical quality as well as the neo-classicism of the piece. The lovely Andante is poetic and natural, and the final rondo movement is as beautiful as one can imagine.

Bartók’s Rhapsody is attractive and – for Bartók, anyway – relatively uncomplicated, and folkish – though not based on any existing theme. The qualities of both players are evident – the interplay is often delicately shaded between violin and piano.

I have sometimes had a blind spot where the music of Szymanowski is expected, and I expected to admire rather than enjoy it here. Not so : from the darkness of the opening Nocturne, which sometimes sounds quite improvisational, to the exciting Tarantella, there is so much to enjoy. The performance is quicker than some of the few rival recordings, but everything is given its rightful weight, aided by the clarity of the recording.

Lepianka’s A Dream is a little charmer, less weighty than the other works on the disc, but lovely in its own, romantic, manner. I had never heard it – or heard of it – before (Lepianka was not a prolific composer, as his main concern was teaching and performance) and this is the only recording of anything by him that I can find. Perhaps it will be taken up by other performers as a perfect encore to a concert. It is instantly appealing.

Recording quality is exceptional, even by the best modern standards, and notes (in Polish and English) are detailed and informative. The only negative, is the playing time, but that should not detract from the excellence of the music and this talented duo. More, please!

Michael Wilkinson


 

 



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