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Romantic Piano Concerto Vol.59 [Jonathan Plowright, Lukasz Borowicz ] [Hyperion: CDA67958]

3.8 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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  • Romantic Piano Concerto Vol.59 [Jonathan Plowright, Lukasz Borowicz ] [Hyperion: CDA67958]
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  • Romantic Piano Concerto Vol. 58 (Concerto In C Major/ F Minor) (Howard Shelley; Tazmanian Symphony Orchestra; Howard Shelley) (Hyperion: CDA67915)
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Product details

  • Conductor: Lukasz Borowicz
  • Composer: Wadyslaw eleski, Aleksander Zarzycki
  • Audio CD (2 April 2013)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Hyperion
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 199,499 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. WLADYSLAW ZELENSKI Piano Concerto in E flat major Op 60 | Allegro maestoso [14'26]
  2. WLADYSLAW ZELENSKI Piano Concerto in E flat major Op 60 | Thème varié | Andantino quasi allegretto [10'25]
  3. WLADYSLAW ZELENSKI Piano Concerto in E flat major Op 60 | Finale-Rondo | Allegro non troppo ma con brio [9'09]
  4. ALEKSANDER ZARZYCKI Piano Concerto in A flat major Op 17 | Andante [7'08]
  5. ALEKSANDER ZARZYCKI Piano Concerto in A flat major Op 17 | Allegro non troppo [10'13]
  6. ALEKSANDER ZARZYCKI Piano Concerto in A flat major Op 17 | Grande Polonaise in E flat major Op 7 [10'03]

Product Description

Product Description

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

Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Jonathan Plowright has made something of a speciality of Polish music and he is certainly into the idiom. For anyone who revels in great romantic piano concertos, superlatively played and recorded you can't go wrong. This is a marvellous issue, number 59 in the Hyperion series. The Zelenski especially is a wonderful early 20th century concerto with a great dancing finale. To sum up this is absolutely b----- brilliant!! Rush out and buy it.
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Wladyslaw Zelenski was a Polish composer and music educator, born in 1837, who helped establish the Cracow Conservatory in 1881 and served as its director until his death in 1921. Not many of his works survive. The piano concerto dates from 1903 and was dedicated to and first performed by Ignacy Friedman.

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.
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I am sorry to disagree with the other reviewers but I regard this last issue of the cycle as completely unbearable. I do not know what prompted the enterprising label Hyperion to record this Cd because perhaps is the worst of the series.
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.
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I'm really happy record companies like Hyperion delve into the byways of the classical repertoire to influence buyers like me with pleasant surprises and many new things. Years ago I didn't have any notion of Polish piano concertos between the ones of Chopin and the next Polish piano concerto I knew, the one of Ludomir Rozycki from 1918. The start of the Hyperion Romantic Piano Concertos series blasted off with a Paderewski and Moszkowski (not a Pole perse by the way) volume and after that they gave us the Polish concertos of Stojowski, Melcer, Scharwenka (half Polish/half Prussian) etc. And now they delve even deeper with concertos by Zarzycki and Zelenski. Warning: they aren't earth-shattering, this is just a pleasant listening experience; works for which no intellectual thinking is necessary. Just let the music flow over you and enjoy the beautiful and presumably very difficult piano part here very well played by mr. Plowright. The orchestral accompaniment is another matter. This is the field in which these works - and many discs in this excellent Hyperion collection - fail to attract. That's not Hyperion's fault but the composers. If you think Chopin was a great orchestrator - you're wrong by the way - this is in the same league. Nothing seriously challenging happens, the confrontation between piano and orchestra is absent most of the time. No spicy things, not even much pepper and salt. A Krakowiak thing, a Polonaise rhythm etc. and that's it. Did the concertos of Brahms or Tchaikofsky, Grieg, or Schumann have any influence at all on Zelenski, who's concerto op.60 is from 1904? Or, he could have been totally unaware of their existence, or didn't have the compositional skill to do much something with the orchestra. I don't know. So, a fine hour of good music making and if you'd let an experienced friend listen to these concertos and tell him or her, `listen, here're new recordings of concertos by Stompowicz', he'll immediately believe you.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.8 out of 5 stars 5 reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Composers , Zelenski and Zarzycki Piano Concertos are very interesting re- discoveries. 16 Nov. 2013
By Peter Dietrich - Published on
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Before I write the review, I would like to say few words about both Composers, because they are virtually unknown not only to the musical world but also in Poland. Their works were in majority never published , because there was no demand for it, but now their time has come. Wladyslaw Zelenski (1837-1921) was a Polish Composer, pianist and organist. He was a representative of neo- romantic Polish Music. He composed four operas . Goplana, Janek,
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.
Highly recommended.
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" .
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A fine disc of unique piano concerti 20 Aug. 2014
By Dennis E. Ferrara - Published on
19th century pianists who were composers as well added to the concerto repertoire. However, when one thinks of Polish works, automatically, the one name comes to mind, Frederick Chopin. Needless to say, there were others; however, they were not as well known. Such is the case of Wladyslaw Zelenski (1837-1921) and his Piano Concerto in E-flat major, Op. 60 (1903) and Aleksander Zarzycki (1834-1895) and his Piano Concerto in A-flat major, Op. 17 (1859-1860) and Grand Polonaise in E-flat major, Op. 7. Zarzycki has been almost totally forgotten. During the first part of the 20th century, violinists played and recorded a Mazurka by him including the lamented Maud Powell (1867-1920) for the Victor Talking Machine Company. Her complete discography is available through Naxos.
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.
4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars very disappointing 17 July 2013
By Bo Biffa - Published on
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Not one of my favorites from this series; now I know why some of the music of the past is easily forgettable. This series has been a blessing to those of us who love obscure piano concertos and I have made only a few mistakes buying these expensive Hyperion discs. This one is a dud though. No lasting impressions; no catchy tunes even after repeated hearings.. I'm sorry but I cannot recommend this disc however beautifully performed and with the usual good sonics that Hyperion always provides. Bo Biffa
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars 11 Oct. 2015
By oscar betancourt - Published on
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very good
3 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I've the whole series, but some of them are getting thin. 9 July 2013
By Tony Earl - Published on
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I will give it more chances, but of late we seem to have ended up in the shallow end of the composing talent pool.
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