For all the Eastern-tinted opulence of his sole opera, King Roger, and assorted, lush vocal cycles, it is in the works scored for violin that we may hear most characteristically the voice of Karol Szymanowski. The reasons are personal as much as musical, both entwined in the person of PawelKochanski, the Polish violinist for whom his fellow countryman composed two concertos and nearly all the works on this album.
Kochanski was a close friend of the nervous, highly strung Szymanowski, and although he had begun his international career touring with the legendary Chopin pianist Arthur Rubinstein, he also performed abroad with Szymanowski until the latter’s health began terminally to wane after successive attacks of tuberculosis, and helped the composer to shape the solo lines of his violin works: indeed the lengthy cadenza of the First Violin Concerto is actually composed by Kochanski.
The major works here are the Mythes and the Second Violin Sonata; Impressionistic, sometimes feather-light in texture yet held together in long paragraphs of lyric outpouring, as erotically charged in their way as any of the Eastern love-poetry set by Szymanowski. Such influence comes to the fore in the Nocturne and Tarantella as well as arrangements of excerpts from King Roger and his ballet Harnasie and in a gorgeous lullaby, La Berceuse d’Aïtacho Enia.
Both Portuguese musicians on this recording have won international acclaim: Bruno Monteiro’s next exciting recording for Brilliant will include Lalo’s SymphonieEspagnole and Saint-Saëns’s Third Violin Concerto with the Orquestra Sinfónica Portuguesa conducted by Pedro Neves.
Karol Szymanowski (1882-1937) was one of Poland’s most important and original composers.
Szymanowski’s style is eclectic, standing in the long romantic tradition he imbued his works with exoticisms, impressionistic flourishes and a general sense of freedom and imagination.
The works for violin and piano were created for the famous Polish violinist Paul Kochanski. The most important works are the substantial Second Violin Sonata and the cycle Myths, both appearing regularly on concert programmes nowadays.
Beautiful performances, with a keen sense for colour and atmosphere, by Bruno Monteiro, one of Portugal’s foremost violinists, and pianist João Paulo Santos.