The third volume of Martin Roscoe's traversal of Szymanowski's piano works for Naxos containz less striking music overall than the two previous volumes in this invaluable series, but is still a valuable release. Other pianists have perhaps taken a slightly more impressionistic approach and focused more on the shimmering atmospheres of the music, but Roscoe - while in no way eschewing the fantasy or magic of the music - more than makes up for it by boldness and sweep. He also manages to create a more variegated sound world for this music than many of his competitors.
The series (sensibly, I admit) spread his Mazurkas op. 50 over the four discs in the series - fabulous, stirring music, firmly based on folk music yet quite experimental in idiom (and sounding very little like Chopin, to which they by virtue of their format might be suspected to be indebted) - the obvious comparison is Bartok, and Szymanowski doesn't suffer from it. Roscoe's imaginative playing brings out all the quirks and kaleidoscopic range of textures in these pieces and is as convincing here as in the very different, somewhat Scriabinesque sound world of the relatively early first sonata (surely no match musically for the masterpiece that is the second sonata).
The Etudes op. 33 is played with flair and poetry, even though no pianist can presumably completely capture the spirit of all four of these variegated, mesmerizing works. Roscoe also makes as strong a case as possible for the less striking Polish Dances and the rather forgettable Prelude and Fugue. He is also given a very clear and natural sound with great depth and clarity. Overall, however, this is not the place to start one's exploration of Szymanowski's variegated piano output, even though it is a must for followers of the series.