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Karol SZYMANOWSKI (1882-1937)
Works for violin and piano.

Violin Sonata in D minor Op. 9 (1904)
(Allegro moderato [9:38]; Andantino tranquillo e dolce [6:44]; Finale: Allegro molto, quasi presto [5:42])
Lullaby (La Berceuse d´Aitacho Enia) Op.52 (1925) [5:25]
Nocturne from Op. 28 (1915) [5:52]
Roxana´s Song (1924) [5:37]
Dance of the Harnasie (1931) [6:43]
Tarantella from Op. 28 [5:58]
Mythes Op. 30 (1915) (Arethusa´s Fountain [6:03]; Narcissus [7:33]; Pan and the Dryads [8:33])
Krzysztof Bakowski (violin)
Anna Górecka (piano)
rec. July 2001, Warsaw Philharmonic Concert Hall. DDD
CD ACCORD ACD 077 [74.13]
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Szymanowski's music is that of an ardent singer and that song can be heard strongly through the soprano voice in Krol Roger (wonderfully recorded on CD Accord - review) and as here through that most soprano-vocal of string instruments, the violin.

If you do not know the Szymanowski violin sonata you are in for a treat if you like ambitious and turbulently romantic pieces. Waves of emotion crash and surge through this achingly volcanic piece. That it was written in 1904 and premiered by Pawel Kochanski and Artur Rubinstein in Warsaw in 1909 comes as no surprise. If you have a taste for the cello sonatas of Rachmaninov or Foulds or the epic violin sonatas of Benjamin Dale, Medtner and Miaskovsky then you must hear this disc and this recording which is direct, subtle and brimming with unruly emotional force. Bakowski embraces the spirited aggression called for in the finale.

The impressionistic and evanescent Lullaby is cut from the same evocative cloth as the First Violin Concerto. It was written in St Jean de Luz. Related in mood is the Song of Roxana from Krol Roger as transcribed by Pawel Kochanski. This is projected with utmost subtlety. A lightly applied yet steady bow sustains a magical enchantment; a lovely performance. Fascinating how these two very fine artists manage with equal conviction the glorious afflatus of the sonata and the perfumed garden that is the Lullaby and Roxana’s Song.

Harnasie is a ballet for soloists, chorus and orchestra - a late work and one which I have long loved ever since delighting in the ecstatic song of the brigands in the Rediffusion Aurora LP version in which the ballet is conducted complete by Witold Rowicki. As is to be expected from a work dating from 1931 the Dance of the Harnasie is fully mature Szymanowski and radiates poetic isolation and a volatile tendency to ecstatic expression. Once again it was transcribed by Kochanski.

The Nocturne is the first of two movements from Op. 28. In its introduction it looks forward to the poetic haze of the Symphony No. 3 Song of the Night. Later this settles into a sort of all-purpose Havanaise-flavoured atmosphere. On this disc the whirl, spiccato, abrasion and pungent smoke of Tarantella is separated by two tracks from its partner Nocturne.

Lastly come the Three Myths - symphonic poems for violin and piano written in Zarudz in 1915. These are wonderfully played by the duo who masterfully catch the steady yet responsively pliant pacing and mystical communion inherent in these pieces. The quintessential illusion of the performance being swayed by the spontaneity of the moment is fully intact. For years I have revered the Kaja Danczowska recording on a Deutsche Grammophon LP (was it ever reissued? - I would love to hear that version again). This Bakowski version now stands in that company and the present disc of course also carries the considerable advantage of being generously timed and carrying the complete Szymanowski music for violin and piano. Bakowski conjures an almost orchestral effect in the Pan and the Dryads movement. If only Szymanowski had had the time and intention to orchestrate these three pieces. They would have made a third violin concerto.

The best of this extremely fine music stands in the same company as Griffes (White Peacock and Pleasure Dome), Scriabin, Foulds (Avatara), Sorabji, Van Dieren (Chinese Symphony - will that ever be recorded) and Bax (Spring Fire).

The liner-notes in English and Polish are by Bohdan Pociej.

The complete Szymanowski for the genre matchlessly presented - Bakowski is a real discovery.

This is an invaluable collection unmatched by any other CD in the catalogue both in its coverage and the multi-faceted artistry of Bakowski and Gorecka.

Rob Barnett



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