Customer Review

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Two heavyweight virtuoso concertos, 11 Aug. 2009
This review is from: Stojowski-Piano Concertos Nos 1 & 2 (Audio CD)
The Polish composer Zygmunt Stojowski (born 1870) was very highly regarded in his day but his music is now almost completely forgotten. Stylistically he was an arch-Romantic who refused to move with the times and, like a number of other composers who found themselves left behind by musical developments with which they could not sympathize, he ceased composing at about the time of the First World War. He moved to New York where he concentrated on teaching and performing. He died there in 1946.
The First Concerto has a sonata form first movement followed by a ternary slow movement and then a finale with a highly rhythmic main theme and episodes which refer back to both the second theme of the first movement and the main theme of the slow movement. The main problem with this concerto is that Stojowski's tunes have a way of promising more than they deliver. They often begin well but don't blossom as they should and so are ultimately unmemorable. The piano part is extremely virtuosic, the orchestration rather thick and, since rigorous thinking is not a feature of this music, the final impression is of a lot of fuss about not very much.
However, things improve considerably in the Second Concerto partly because it avoids sonata form and all its pitfalls. The first movement is labelled "Prologue". The introduction to this movement culminates in a memorable phrase at 1m 30 secs. This is followed by the main theme of the movement, a simple and rather lovely tune. After a return to the introductory material, this tune returns on the strings and climaxes with the memorable phrase from earlier on. It's neat, effective and a good wallow! The scherzo, which follows without a break, makes use of material from the first movement. It's a sort of cross between the scherzo from Saint-Saens' Second Piano Concerto and the Litolff Scherzo.
Then comes a fine set of variations on a noble theme. This 20 minute movement is the best music on the disc. As the variations progress Stojowski begins to refer to material from earlier on and the final variation culminates in another large-scale statement of the first movement's main theme. Surprisingly, the concerto ends quietly.
Plowright is a splendid virtuoso and plays these concertos for all they are worth although just occasionally you feel that the music would flow a little better if he didn't have quite so many notes to get through! The Second Concerto is worth your time and money.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 6 Jan 2010 18:36:36 GMT
Thanks, this is a really helpful review and has determined me to buy this CD.

In reply to an earlier post on 6 Jan 2010 21:41:06 GMT
Thanks Humtpty! You are the first person ever to comment on one of my reviews....except in a facetious way!! (I have some strange relatives!)
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