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Polish Miniatures
Roman STATKOWSKI (1859-1925)
Alla Cracovienne in D Major, Op. 7 [4:25]
Dumka in A minor [3:14]
Mazurkas, Op. 8, No. 2 in F Major [3:08]
Mazurkas, Op. 8, No. 3 in A Minor [4:52]
Oberek [3:54]
Emil MLYNARSKI (1870-1935)
Morceaux, Op. 4: No. 1, Polonaise [4:42]
Morceaux, Op. 4: No. 2, Berceuse slave [2:45]
Mazurkas, Op. 7: No. 1 in G Major [4:06]
Ignacy Jan PADEREWSKI (1860-1941)
Mélodie in G-Flat Major, Op.16 No.2 arr. for violin and piano [4:13]
Aleksander ZARZYCKI (1834-1895)
Romance in E major, Op. 16 [4:06]
Mazurka in G, Op. 26 [5:05]
Juliusz ZAREBSKI (1854-1885)
Berceuse (Lullaby), Op. 22 [4:30]
Adam ANDRZEJOWSKI (1880-1920)
Romance in E flat major [5:00]
Piotr Plawner (violin)
Piotr Sałajczyk (piano)
rec. 2016, KMS Deutschlandfunk Cologne
HÄNSSLER HC18049 [57:44]

Piotr Plawner will be well-known to those who enjoy his forays into the Polish repertoire, in particular; recordings of Bacewicz, Karlowicz and Szymanowski being amongst his most internationally successful though clearly he has a wide repertoire, as befits a soloist of stature.

Here he turns to the world of the Polish miniature, embracing the salon charmer and the virtuoso showcase alike. Seasoned violin watchers will note Zarzycki and the Paderewski in the programme but may then struggle to recall many other comparable recorded performances by compatriots Statkowski and even the Mlynarski morceaux may prove tricky in that respect. It would be nice to report that there is a comprehensive booklet note revealing details of each composer and his affiliation for the violin and dates of composition but unfortunately Plawner’s introduction is rather too brief and there’s four times as much about both performers, in terms of column inches, as there is about the music. A mistake, surely, given the obscurity of much of the repertoire.

With the exception of the Krakowiak Statkowski’s five genre pieces haven’t been recorded before commercially, as far as I can tell, though I’ve not delved into the matter with forensic precision. The Krakowiak is perhaps the best, a cheeky opus, charmingly fast with a sorrowful B section and certainly deserving a place as a recital encore. The Oberek is elegant and attractive, the Mazurka full of virtuoso panache. Some of these, including the last-named, are piano originals arranged for fiddle. Plawner is a strong proponent of Mlynarski; indeed, he gave the world premiere of his 1897 First Violin Concerto almost a decade ago with the Polish Radio Orchestra. He’s predictably perfectly at home with the three selected genre pieces - a muscular Polonaise, a truly lovely wistful wiegenlied and the ebullient roulades of the Mazurka, Op.7 – a real showpiece. Interestingly, and cleverly, Plawner hasn’t programmed the Mazurka in G, Op.26, which is the one Mlynarski piece violinists of flair did occasionally play and record.

Paderewski’s Melodie was a favourite of Kreisler’s, who recorded it. Plawner employs some elegant, appropriate slides and doesn’t overdo things in Zarzycki’s Romance, Op.16; subtle bowing illuminates the piece. The Mazurka is played quite straight; inevitably next to the greatest performers – Huberman in 1922 and decades later David Oistrakh - Plawner sounds somewhat lacking in characterisation. Huberman’s performance, in particular, is an object lesson is shaping a piece. Juliusz Zerebski is pretty much unknown and his one work here is full of salon flair. Finally, Plawner contrasts the two Andrezejowski pieces – slow, then fast – neatly. Yulian Sitkovetsky used to play the Romanze but hardly anyone else did, or does, except for the enterprising Plawner.

There are a few demerits here. The notes are cursory, the timing could have been inflated still further. Against that, the recording quality is good and the performances fine. Piotr Sałajczyk plays his part in the success of this disc – niche but nice.

Jonathan Woolf


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