Romantic Piano Concerto Vol.59 [Jonathan Plowright, Lukasz Borowicz ] [Hyperion: CDA67958]
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This 59th volume of the Romantic Piano Concerto series features Jonathan Plowright, whose brilliant and utterly idiomatic performances of Romantic Polish piano music have confirmed him as a master of this repertoire. Here he collaborates with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and Lukasz Borowicz to perform three very obscure but fascinating works. The music of Zelenski has already been championed by Plowright in a disc of Polish chamber music (see below); now he performs his Piano Concerto in E flat major, which was written in 1903 and dedicated to the young Ignacy Friedman, who gave the premiere the following year.
A Piano Concerto in A flat major by Aleksander Zarzycki is also included, plus his barnstorming Grande Polonaise, an outrageous masterpiece which is unknown even in specialist piano circles.
Jonathan Plowright continues his persuasive advocacy of the Polish 19th- and early 20th-century repertoire with these two rarities in Hyperion's seemingly inexhaustible Romantic Piano Concerto series (this one is No 59). Wladyslaw Zelenski's lyrically emotional concerto shows the influence of Tchaikovsky, Franck and Grieg and offers Plowright plenty of opportunities to display his formidable talent. Like fellow countryman Chopin, Aleksander Zarzycki raises traditional dance forms to virtuosic level in his engaging concerto and makes a patriotic call to his homeland with his brilliant Grande Polonaise. --Observer, 07/04/13
pianist Jonathon Plowright believes in this music and he is sensitive the stylistic differences across these three works. --IRR, Apr'13
Two big, sweeping Romantic piano concertos by almost-unknown Polish composers turn out to be buried treasure. **** --Sinfini Music,12/4/13
Borowicz...catches spot-on every tricky twist and turn and inspires the BBC Scottish players in their cracking accompaniment. We'll be hearing a lot more of him. --Gramophone, June'13
Even in the crowded field of rare Romantic piano concertos, the Polish composers Wladyslaw Zelenski and Aleksander Zarzycki have something particularly satisfying to bring to Hyperion's invaluable series. Performance & Recording **** --BBC Music Magazine, June'13
Top Customer Reviews
More in the tradition of the Russian than the German Romantics, Zelenski's music puts more emphasis on highlighting than blending orchestral colour. There are no extended orchestral tuttis. The piano writing is extremely virtuosic. Sometimes, as often at the ends of cadenzas, it is ostentatiously so. The first movement uses a modified version of sonata form. Its opening idea is march-like (the movement is actually in triple time) and is soon repeated by the piano. The lyrical second theme arrives at 3 mins 6 secs in the expected key. It has a distinctive opening shape but doesn't really blossom as you hope it will. After a short tutti, a development section begins. It is largely based on the second theme though short interludes built on the "march" function as links. A lengthy cadenza, again largely built on the second theme, arrives before you know it. Oddly, the ensuing recapitulation shortens the restatement of the second theme and the result is a movement which is out of proportion. The real problem with this movement, however, is that its melodic material is just not memorable enough to sustain it.
The second movement is an improvement. It is a set of five variations in alternating slow and fast tempi on a simple folk-like tune. This form seems to suit Zelenski better and, although there is little that is truly memorable, there is evidence of a lively musical imagination at work.Read more ›
We have here two Polish composers: Wladislaw Zelenski, with the piano concerto in E flat major, and Alexander Zarzicki, with his concerto in A flat major and his Grande Polonaise, the only piece worth hearing in this recording.
The first concerto, that by Zelenski, is a completetely uninspired work. It is difficult to single out any catchy and memorable tune and, on the other hand, the orchestral writing is so unimaginative and derivative that the sounds which the orchestra elicits are raucous: the orchestra seems to be clattering throughout. The main protagonist is the piano and the role of the orchestra is reduced to a mere accompaniment.
Things slightly improve in the second concerto: at least the orchestration is better, but the concerto is as dull and vapid as the previous one. The lack of inspiration permeates during the concerto.
It is difficult to think of such an unfortunate coupling because both concertos leave a lot to be desired, and so the neglect into which fell this composers is completely deserved.
The last work: the grande Polonaise in E flat major is the most succesful and pleasant. The music does not contain much depth, but the dance, bordering on the sentimental, is charming.
I do not recommend this Cd.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Konrad Wallenrod based on the poem by Adam Mickiewicz and Stara Basn ( Old Tale) based on the novel by ignacy
Kraszewski. His only work that is known outside of Poland , is the Overture w Tatrach( In the Tatra Mountains) Op. 27 , which is available in recordings. He also composed other Symphonic Works . Some of his piano works were also recorded.His Concerto in E flat for Piano and Orchestra Op. 60 recorded here was composed in1903 and dedicated to pianist Ignacy Friedman, who gave the premiere the following year . It is an excellent work with virtuoso passages
And some hidden melodies,but very easy to listen and enjoy. Without question it deserves a repeated hearing Aleksander Zarzycki ( 1834- 1895) was a Polish Composer and Conductor .Author of piano and violin composition
Mazurkas , polonaises , krakowiaks and songs. His Concerto for Piano and Orchestra ,Op. 17 is a beautiful , ful of sparkling tunes ,recognizable without repeated hearing . The Grand Polonaise is even better ,rhythmically outstanding and very enjoyable. All works are performed very beautifully by Jonathan Plowright with BBC Scottish
Symphony Orchestra conducted by Lukasz Borowicz. In sum an excellent recording and great re- discovery.
Ps. A Note to previous reviewers : Please , if you have trouble to understand an unknown composition, be patient , listen more times before you make a premature judgment. By giving two stars you are creating bad image of the composer . If you are unable to judge it properly don't write a review at all. Follow the advise of the great pianist
Artur Rubinstein who was asked to express his opinion about certain music. His answer was: " I don't understand it, I can not judge" .
The music is charming and certainly reflects a by gone era of romantic literature which should be recorded. Too many "critics" complain about recording these minor composers; however, thank goodness, cd companies see it differently than these close minded snobs who have not written anything or performed anything unless by their arm chair writing "poison" for all to read. Let's face it, simply and clearly, arm chair criticism is simply one person's opinion!
Hyperion has been doing a wonderful service in recording unique piano and violin concerti. This recording under discussion fits their proposed and future plans in exposing world audiences to unknown compositions. Jonathan Plowright is one of several pianists who record these works including Howard Shelley among others. The playing here is excellent as always and the program notes are both educational and entertaining. The BBC Scottish Symphony is under the excellent direction of Lukasz Borowicz. The sound and balance between piano and orchestra is very fine. These concerti are recommended for those individuals who enjoy hearing unique and unknown romantic piano repertoire.