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Exoticism - The Music Of Karol Szymanowski / Kaplanek, Sylvestre

Szymanowski / Kaplanek / Sylvestre
Release Date: 09/24/2013 
Label:  Marquis   Catalog #: 81437   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Karol Szymanowski
Performer:  Jerzy KaplanekStéphan Sylvestre
Number of Discs: 1 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

SZYMANOWSKI Violin Sonata. Nocturne and Tarantella. King Roger: Chant de Roxanne (arr. Kochanski). Mythes. Prelude, op. 1/1 (arr. Bacewicz) Jerzy Kap?anek (vn); Stéphan Sylvestre (pn) MARQUIS 7747181432 3 (63: 32)

The booklet interviews with violinist Jerzy Kap?anek and pianist Read more Stéphan Sylvestre set forth their agreement that many earlier performances of Szymanowski’s violin music have treated it as conceived for a big violin and a relatively small piano, while they consider it important to interweave the parts as equals. Sylvestre waxes eloquent about the influences on the composer’s writing for piano (Chopin, and less specifically, Poland, France, and the Mediterranean, perhaps suggesting the collection’s title, Exoticism ); but although all these influences and potential balances perhaps do appear in the early Sonata, Kap?anek sounds larger than life in its opening measures, seeming at first more a violin soloist than a chamber musician. Still, he exchanges nuances with Sylvestre in the measures that follow, creating a sort of textural as well as musical dialogue. Szymanowski transcribed three of Paganini’s caprices for violin and piano, but the rich subtlety of those piano parts doesn’t always emerge in recordings of the composer’s own works, which can sound hard-edged though impassioned. They do emerge in these performances. The opening of the second movement (of three) almost serves as an illustration of Sylvestre’s point. The duo veers from passionate parlance to poignant piquancy (recalling the atmosphere of the composer’s First Violin Concerto as the movement progresses). In the Finale, it’s Sylvestre’s turn to emerge larger than life; and he takes the lead confidently and effectively through much of that movement.

The composer’s Nocturne and Tarantella has become something of a staple at recitals (violin recitals, that is—and the duo’s conception of the music should make listeners wonder how they’ll approach what has been taken to be a showpiece for violin). Written about a decade later than the Sonata, this work reveals itself in their performance to be cast in a similarly allusive mold. Compared, in fact, to Kyung-Wha Chung’s performance (in Souvenirs , with Itamar Golan, EMI CDC 7243 5 56827 2 7), which I deemed in Fanfare 23:4 to develop juggernaut-like momentum, this one seems almost languid at times, though it often turns brilliant. Kap?anek plays with a glowing tone in Paul Kochanski’s violinistic transcription of “Chant de Roxane” from Szymanowski’s opera, King Roger.

Mythes sounds more Impressionistic—David Oistrakh’s live recording from September 1958 of that work (issued on Testament 1442, David Oistrakh plays Schumann, Franck, Szymanowski, and Ravel, Fanfare 32:6), provides a sort of contrast of the perhaps more violinistic way of playing the composer’s works with the one adopted by Kap?anek and Sylvestre. (Yampolski, though stepping to the fore at times, recedes to the background when Oistrakh re-enters.) Kap?anek virtually shimmers in La Fontaine d’Aréthuse . In Narcisse , Kap?anek and Sylvestre engage in a diaphanous dialogue, while they alternately buzz with excitement (Kap?anek in fey double-stops), relax into near lethargy, and soar ecstatically in the final movement, “Dryades et Pan.”

The program concludes with a transcription by violinist-composer Gra?yna Bacewicz of Szymanowski’s turn-of-the-century Prelude in B Minor, op. 1/1, in which Sylvestre and Kap?anek certainly share the listener’s attention. The entire program represents a dedicated collaboration that most listeners will find captivating in itself, not to mention the inherent interest of the music or of the instrumentalists’ individual and shared conceptions of it (as well as the warm and well-balanced recorded sound). If anyone has made a case for Szymanowski as a composer of music for the violin rather than a composer of violin music, Kap?anek and Sylvestre have done so. Most strongly recommended.

FANFARE: Robert Maxham
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Works on This Recording

Sonata for Violin and Piano in D minor, Op. 9 by Karol Szymanowski
Performer:  Jerzy Kaplanek (Violin), Stéphan Sylvestre (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1904; Warsaw, Poland 
Nocturne and Tarantella, Op. 28 by Karol Szymanowski
Performer:  Jerzy Kaplanek (Violin), Stéphan Sylvestre (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1915; Poland 
Myths (3), Op. 30 by Karol Szymanowski
Performer:  Jerzy Kaplanek (Violin), Stéphan Sylvestre (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1915; Poland 

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