One of the most grown-up review sites around

Search MusicWeb Here
 

 

International mailing


  Founder: Len Mullenger              Founding Editor: Rob Barnett              Contact Seen and Heard here

Some items
to consider


.
La Mer Ticciati

Eriks EŠENVALDS

Detlev GLANERT

Jaw-dropping

simply marvellous

Outstanding music

Elite treatment

some joyous Gershwin


Bartok String Quartets
uniquely sensitive


Cantatas for Soprano

 


Support us financially by purchasing
this through MusicWeb
for Ł16 postage paid world-wide.

Frédéric CHOPIN (1810-1849)
Barcarolle in F sharp, Op. 60 (1845/46) [8:53]
Nocturne in C sharp minor, Op. 27/1 (1833-36) [6:01]
Thee Mazurkas, Op. 59 (1845) [10:03]
Etudes, Op. 25 (1837): No. 11 in A minor [3:50]; No. 10 in B minor [4:43]
Polonaise in F sharp minor, Op. 44 (1841/41) [10:56]
Waltz in A flat, Op. 42 (1840) [4:13]
Ignacy Jan PADEREWSKI (1860-1941)
Nocturne in B flat, Op. 16/4 (1890/92) [3:44]
Polonaise in B, Op. 9/6 (1884) [4:43]
Karol SZYMANOWSKI (1882-1937)
Two Mazurkas, Op. 62 (1933/34) [6:06]
Józef WIENIAWSKI (1837-1912)
Valse de Concert in D flat, Op. 3 (1854) [5:58]
Michał Szymanowski (piano)
rec. March 2015, Warsaw Philharmonic Concert Hall
CD ACCORD ACD219-2 [70:14]

This is such a beautifully programmed disc, phenomenally recorded and showcasing a major pianistic talent. The piano sound comes across as magnificently burnished.

Michal Karol Szymanowski, born 1988 in Bydgoszcz, holds an innate musicality that stands him in good stead. Not for him velocity for velocity’s sake; this is heartfelt music-making of the type one associates with such luminaries as Uchida, Schiff and Brendel.

The Chopin Barcarolle exemplifies this perfectly. Recorded in beautiful sound that allows each and every nuance of tone gradation to shine through, and performed with a sure rhythmic sense that conveys the fluid nature of the score to perfection, Szymanowski allows the Barcarolle to build naturally. The Nocturne that follows is the perfect bedfellow. Shorn of its more famous D flat major companion, the C sharp minor Nocturne Op. 27/1 is here allowed to soar alone, a lament that carries, in this performance, an undertone of hope. Again, as is the case with the Barcarolle, the Nocturne moves naturally to its climax; note, also, how well and intelligently Szymanowski balances his chords in this piece.

The Paderewski Nocturne is an absolute joy to experience, perfectly paced and exquisitely given with impeccably sweet cantabile line. Paderewski’s own Victor recording (June 1, 1922: see APR7505) is significantly more languorous, 4:47 against the present artist’s 3:44. The Chopin Op. 59 Mazurkas seem the perfect prolongation of this, performed with infinite tenderness by Szymanowski.

The two Mazurkas, Op. 59 by the composer Szymanowski have a Scriabinesque hue, and Szymanowski (pianist) plays with a bejewelled touch. Yes, Hamelin on Hyperion is formidable competition, but to experience him one has to purchase the complete Scriabin Mazurkas, in fairness not too onerous a task, but we need to hold in our minds that our pianist’s script here is to place this composer in context. The chromatic inflections of Szymanowski’s melodies are given with a superb sense of rightness.

Chopin’s Etude in A minor starts well but has the odd moment of awkwardness. The technical perfection of Pollini is absent here, and while Szymanowski tracks the music’s ebb and flow, he does so to the detriment of the overall momentum. In the case of Op. 25/10, Szymanowski finds appropriate lyricism in the central panel; perhaps his F sharp minor Polonaise lacks the last degree of fire, but one has to admire the textural clarity Szymanowski brings to the score, and also the rhythmic firmness of the central section. He just misses the mystery of the work’s later stages, however. The final Chopin offering, placed a tad later in the recital, between the Paderewski Polonaise and the Wieniawski, is the Op. 42 Waltz, alive and vital: perhaps the Paderewski threw some glitter over it. It certainly sounds like it.

Paderewski’s B-Major Polonaise Op. 9/6 is, as the booklet notes to the present release claim, far closer to salon music than Chopin’s heroic offerings in this form. Nevertheless, Paderewski’s Polonaise, with its fanfare motifs and horn-like gestures in the left-hand has a charm all of its own and it is clear Szymanowski enjoys himself. He comes into competition with another pianist also on the CD Accord label, Pawel Wakarecy who on his disc (ACD190) couples the piece with some Chopin and, interestingly, a Grande Polonaise by Zarebski (an interesting composer himself: try Zarebski’s G-Minor Piano Quintet, Op. 14, perhaps in the excellent recording on Accord 178 by the Lasoń Ensemble). Michał Szymanowski is more convincing an interpreter than Wakarecy in the Paderewski Polonaise though; the latter rather loses steam, and it is Szymanowski that captures the sparkly joy of the work better.

Finally, a lovely piece by Józef Wieniawski only otherwise available (to my knowledge) in a Welte-Mignon piano roll of Hedwig Kirsch on Tudor Records, where it is identified as “Concert Waltz” (I mention this for search engine purposes, not because I can’t tell that “Valse de Concert” equals “Concert Waltz,” incidentally). Szymanowski plays this pure salon music most affectionately.

All in all then, a delightful disc, really well programmed and well performed by a talented, eminently musical pianist.

Colin Clarke

 




Gerard Hoffnung CDs

Advertising on
Musicweb



Donate and get a free CD

 

New Releases

Naxos Classical



Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable
(THE Polish label)
Altus 10% off
Atoll 10% off
CRD 10% off
Hallé 10% off
Lyrita 10% off
Nimbus 10% off
Nimbus Alliance
Prima voce 10% off
Red Priest 10% off
Retrospective 10% off
Saydisc 10% off
Sterling 10% off


Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing
sample

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
   
Rob Barnett
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
Editor in Chief
   Vacant
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger