Notes and Editorial Reviews
The neglected minor composers of the nineteenth century are getting a deserved airing these days. Curiously enough, the name of Xaver Scharwenka was one of the first musicians' names I got to know as a child (wondering also how to pronounce it), because of his edition of Chopin published by the British firm of Augener. He was born in 1850 in East Prussia, in the city that is now Poznan in Poland, but studied in Berlin and made his debut there as a pianist, going on to a major career as a performer and teacher in Europe and the United States. He also made a name as a composer, and no less a conductor than Mahler directed a New York performance of his Fourth Piano Concerto in 1910 in which he himself played the solo part.
Tanyel's selection usefully fills a gap in any collection of piano music of this period. But leannot see more than effective ersatz Chopin in the First Piano Sonata which is the longest work here: indeed, it resembles the very early C minor Sonata which the greater composer set aside and which only received publication against his will. The best music is probably to be found in the slow third movement, but it still refuses to produce a memorable tune or reveal much personality. I can't find anything here that other pianists will dash to take up. Still, on its own terms the work is enjoyable and the performance is stylish: indeed, Seta Tanyel is a good advocate for this music, and she is well recorded.
The other pieces are worth hearing, butt would not put it more strongly than that, and the five Polish Dances have some character within an attractive Polish idiom. But unlike the writer of the booklet-note, I am not "initially tempted to make comparison with the mazurkas of Chopin" (which are consistently more remarkable pieces), and even less do I then conclude, as he does, that there is instead "a distinct originality". Nevertheless, the fourth dance in G minor is good enough to be by Chopin, though its middle section does not sound like that master and generally these pieces in triple time are less intimate and more in the style of concert music. The remaining works are somewhere between salon and concert music, with the Polonaise, Op. 42, having some grandeur and the Valse-Caprice a distinct charm.
-- Gramophone [9/1992]
reviewing the original release of this title, Collins 1325
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