This very fine album of classical violin and piano chamber music is unusual in that while it contains the works of a single composer, they are richly variable in musical styles. Moreover, the musicians, highly accomplished, well-recorded and internationally lauded, perform with both tenderness and technical precision. The result is pleasurable listening; it is also an education. Szymanowski wrote his works at the end of the Romantic period, through the rise of Impressionism, and the later novel explorations of time and folkloric themes. The selections here cover these periods.
The fully developed, emotionally strong, lyrical Violin Sonata is from 1904. Its romantic sweetness has a nostalgic feeling. The second movement is marked by pizzicato. The representative of 1910 is the brief Romance, a dramatic and luxuriant work with crescendos and a final long exhale in the upper register, rising to the sky. The 1915 composition, Mythes, brought Szymanowski high regard. Influenced by Debussy, the three sections are atmospheric with touches of folkoric dance. It is as if hearing rites through a mist. Another piece from this year has two parts, indicated by its title, Notturno and Tarantella. It opens with darkness and mystery. Sketches of exotic melodies expand into an Arabian Night before fading back into somber stillness. True to its title, the tarantella is a bright skittering, demonic dance, nervous and fervent. Two late period pieces are presented: Berceuse d'Aïtacho Enia of 1925 and a transcription of the Chant de Roxane from the opera King Roger. The first is a lullaby of unease; the second, a slow, gentle seductive flowing. Miriam Kramer, violin, is convincing in all her parts, and her piano accompanist Nicholas Durcan brings enhancing support. This is a thoroughly delightful album.