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Ludomir RÓŻYCKI (1883-1953)
Violin Concerto Op.70 [24:04]
Deux Melodies pour violon et piano op.5 [3:05]
Deux Nocturnes pour violin et piano op.30 [8:28]
Transcriptions for violin and piano from the ballet Pan Twardowski op.45 [13:47]
Ewelina Nowicka (violin)
Pola Lazar, Michał Krężlewski (piano)
Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra in Katowice/Zygmunt Rychert
rec. 2001/10, Grzegorz Fitelberg Concert Hall, Katowice; Radio Gdansk, Poland

Whilst doing research prior to writing this review, I discovered that that the concerto was left incomplete on the composer’s death, and this recording uses an orchestration by Zygmunt Rychert of the piano reduction. He based his work on his knowledge of Różycki’s orchestral scores, but since he finished it, the original orchestral parts have been discovered. Using these and the same piano reduction, the work has been completed again by the violinist Janusz Wawrowski. He has recorded the piece with the RPO under the baton of Grzegorz Nowak, but I can find no evidence that the recording has been issued in any format. It is likely that if and when it is issued, the piece will almost certainly sound more idiomatic than the one we have here.

It seems that Różycki buried the score, in a suitcase, in the garden of a destroyed house in Warsaw towards the end of the war. Upon discovery, it was placed in the Polish National Library, where it lay forgotten for years.

The concerto is in two movements, an andante of 8 minutes and an allegro deciso of 16 minutes. The work opens orchestrally in a charged romantic style, and 54 seconds in, the soloist joins, her violin singing the attractive main theme that is then elaborated by the orchestra. The movement is attractively scored and melodically rather reminds me of Tchaikovsky, until at 2’50” a ten second brassy, percussive interlude interrupts things. Then we are back into languorous dreaming. The movement continues in similar mode as the violin sings, softly accompanied rising to an occasional minor climax. Różycki gives the soloist an opportunity for brief display, with the orchestra quite subservient except for an occasional side drum outburst. The movement ends quietly as the soloist fades out.

The second opens with a vigorous dance, the soloist having plenty of opportunity to display her skills. The music soon relaxes and we are back in hyper-romantic mode that at 6 minutes changes, with the violin and orchestra playing a propulsive theme that shows itself capable of ecstatic development, the violin soaring to the heights. Here, Ewelina Nowicka is able to display her ability to coax her instrument into a sweet, pure high voice. At 9’16” the orchestra takes over, allowing the soloist a minute and a half rest, while a supercharged romantic melody is spun, an orchestral bell occasionally making itself heard. The opening dance then reappears with the soloist playing a full role, at times playing a contrasting fast theme, ornamented with many violinistic fireworks. At 12’25”, relaxed languorous music reappears for both orchestra and soloist, but at 14’27” the score reverts to a mixture of dance and romantic dalliance, followed by orchestral and violin fireworks to the sonorous conclusion.

It is an enjoyable piece, my ear being occasionally tickled by unusual aspects of orchestration. Melodically, it is pleasing without being ultra-memorable, and should appeal to anyone who responds to, say, the concerto of Glazunov.

It is a pity that no other concerted work was available as a filler, so instead we are treated to two very short mélodies, an andante and allegretto, which are romantically pleasant, the andante being a lovely melody for which the piano provides a pleasing, rippling accompaniment. The allegretto is even shorter and passes swiftly and unmemorably. These two are little more than salon music, composed whilst Różycki was studying with Humperdinck and finished in 1909. They are followed by two contemporaneous pieces, the Deux Nocturnes bearing a much later opus number, both about four minutes in length, and the second in particular displays a pleasingly greater harmonic flexibility than the Deux Mélodies.
The CD finishes with Ewelina Nowicka’s own transcriptions of sections of the composer’s large-scale ballet Pan Twardowski which was performed both internationally and over 800 times in Warsaw. Thirty minutes of excerpts from this ballet have been issued on an old Olympia CD back in 1988. As one might expect from such an expert violinist, these short pieces are most attractive, and bring the CD to a pleasant conclusion.

The CD booklet has been produced to a high standard, as is the norm with Acte Préalable. It contains a biography of the composer and profiles of the performers, but is lacking somewhat in descriptions of the music. Hyperion has recorded his concerted works for piano on CDA 68066, as part of their excellent Romantic Piano Concerto series, reviewed here.

This is an enjoyable CD that will appeal to anyone who loves the romantic violin, mostly accompanied by a well-played, varied and colourful orchestral palette. The recording is fine, although a little bright at times, and the orchestra plays well.

Jim Westhead

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