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Scharwenka: Piano Concerto No 4, Polish National Dances / Poizat, Borowicz

Scharwenka / Poizat / Pzpo / Borowicz
Release Date: 06/28/2011 
Label:  Naxos   Catalog #: 8572637   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Franz Xaver Scharwenka
Performer:  Francois Xavier Poizat
Conductor:  Lukasz Borowicz
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Poznan Philharmonic Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
In Stock: Usually ships in 24 hours.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews



SCHARWENKA Piano Concerto No. 4. Mataswintha: Overture. Cello Sonata in e: Andante religioso. Polish National Dances Nos. 3, 8, 15 François Xavier Poizat (pn); Lukasz Borowicz, cond; Poznan PO NAXOS 8.572637 (67:27)


This recording of the fourth, final, and most ambitious of Franz Xavier Scharwenka’s piano concertos Read more is only the second that the work has received. This is surprising, considering the music’s high quality and accessibility. The first recording, with pianist Stephen Hough and Lawrence Foster leading the Birmingham Symphony, is an outstanding entry in Hyperion’s Romantic Piano Concerto series. (It also contains Emil von Sauer’s First Piano Concerto, and Sauer’s contrived, bombastic music makes Scharwenka’s sound all the more worthy.) The Hough/Foster Scharwenka Fourth has been deservedly acclaimed, but I find François Xavier Poizat and Lukasz Borowicz on this new Naxos CD to be even better.


Naxos’s sound is richer and more resonant than Hyperion’s. Hyperion’s “cooler” sonic perspective provides what is probably a more accurate sense of the balance between piano and orchestra, but the sound is a bit dry and the piano almost disappears into the orchestra’s texture in quieter passages. Hough is, of course, a seasoned and polished virtuoso, but Poizat, at age 21, plays with a weightier, more colorful sonority, and also supplies the required dazzling fingerwork. The Poznan orchestra under Borowicz plays with real energy, and Naxos has captured the flattering acoustic of the auditorium of the Adam Mickiewicz University (Poznan), where the sessions took place. The tone of the booklet notes gives evidence of the national pride that lies behind this and other attempts at reintroducing Scharwenka’s once-popular music to the public.


The concerto itself, composed in 1908 and notably performed in 1910 in New York with the composer as soloist and Mahler conducting, holds up to repeated listenings. Less flamboyant or innovative than Tchaikovsky or Liszt’s concertos, the piano writing shows their influence, while the work’s four-movement sequence owes something to the Brahms Second. In the 19-minute opening Allegro patetico, Scharwenka successfully builds a large structure by alternating stern, vigorous material with a genuinely touching lyrical theme that reappears in the next two movements, all the while supplying ingenious and difficult piano writing. The second and third movements are, respectively, a charming, folkish Intermezzo and a dreamy, dirgelike Lento. The finale is a tarantella, played by Poizat with punch and whirlwind speed.


The rest of the disc offers a sampling of smaller Scharwenka works. Poizat plays three Polish National Dances for solo piano—not including No. 1, Scharwenka’s best-known composition—bringing the music fully to life only in the showy No. 15. The overture to the opera Mataswintha and an orchestral arrangement of a movement from a cello sonata, both well played, make gentle, innocuous impressions.


Instead of the miscellaneous fillers, I wish that Naxos had instead given us Poizat and Borowicz in Scharwenka’s First Piano Concerto, an enjoyable work that remains sparsely represented in the catalog, though there are distinguished recordings by Earl Wild and Marc-André Hamelin. The two concertos would probably have made a stupendous disc, but as it is, this release is highly recommended for the Fourth.


FANFARE: Paul Orgel
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Works on This Recording

1.
Concerto for Piano no 4 in F minor, Op. 82 by Franz Xaver Scharwenka
Performer:  Francois Xavier Poizat (Piano)
Conductor:  Lukasz Borowicz
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Poznan Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1908; Germany 
2.
Polish Dances for Piano, Op. 3: no 8 in B flat minor by Franz Xaver Scharwenka
Performer:  Francois Xavier Poizat (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: Poland 
3.
Polish Dances for Piano, Op. 3: no 15 in B flat major by Franz Xaver Scharwenka
Performer:  Francois Xavier Poizat (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: Poland 
4.
Polish Dances (5) for Piano, Op. 3: no 1 in E flat minor by Franz Xaver Scharwenka
Performer:  Francois Xavier Poizat (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1869; Germany 
5.
Mataswintha: Overture by Franz Xaver Scharwenka
Conductor:  Lukasz Borowicz
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Poznan Philharmonic Orchestra
6.
Sonata for Cello and Piano in E minor, Op. 46: Andante religioso by Franz Xaver Scharwenka
Conductor:  Lukasz Borowicz
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Poznan Philharmonic Orchestra

Sound Samples

Piano Concerto No. 4 in F minor, Op. 82, No. 4: I. Allegro patetico
Piano Concerto No. 4 in F minor, Op. 82, No. 4: II. Intermezzo: Allegretto molto tranquillo
Piano Concerto No. 4 in F minor, Op. 82, No. 4: III. Lento maestoso
Piano Concerto No. 4 in F minor, Op. 82, No. 4: IV. Allegro con fuoco
Polish Dances, Op. 3: No. 1 in E flat minor
Polish Dances, Op. 3: No. 8 in B flat minor
Polish Dances, Op. 3: No. 15 in B flat major
Mataswintha: Overture
Cello Sonata in E minor, Op. 46: II. Andante religioso (arr. for harp, organ and strings)

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