Excerpts by: Józef Wieniawski, Ernest Schelling, Béla Bartók, Arthur Benjamin, Theodore Chanler, Felix Lebunski, Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco, Eugene Goossens, Richard Hammond, Darius Milhaud, Bohuslav Martinù, Joaquín Nin-Culmell, Emerson Whithorne, Vittorio Rieti, Karol Rathaus, Sigismond Stojowski, Jaromír Weinberger, Benjamin Britten, Aleksander Zarzycki, Cécile Chaminade & Felix Blumenfeld
Jonathan Plowright (piano)
Recorded at Potton Hall, Dunwich, Suffolk, UK (January, 2011) and at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, Glasgow, Scotland (December, 2010) – 75’32
Hyperion Ref. # CDA67903 – Booklet in English, French and German
Jonathan Plowright’s latest CD is a follow-up to his “Hommage à Chopin”. The focus this time around is pianist Ignacy Jan Paderewski (1860-1941), who was also Poland’s Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs post World War I. None of the selections featured here are his works but rather a recording of a collection of 17 pieces in an anthology from the publishers Boosey and Hawkes to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Paderewski’s first concert tour of America in 1891. The composer died in 1941 so the compilation was then designated as memorial album; also included here were pieces dedicated to Paderewski from Schelling, Wieniawski, Zarzycki, Chaminade and Blumenfeld.
Ernest Schelling was Paderewski’s pupil and the influence is readily apparent in his writing. Schelling passed away two years before his teacher and when the anthology was being compiled, Schelling’s widow submitted the untitled piece with the tempo marking, Con tenerezza to go along with the gentle Nocturne. Each work here is a miniature gem, exquisitely played by Mr. Plowright to reflect its composer’s intention. Dance music of Poland is evident in Martinů’s Mazurka, the Kujawiak of Rathaus and Blumenfeld’s Kujawiak-Obertas. We hear the elements of Chopin – of whom Paderewski was a superlative interpreter – in the delicate Chant du printemps by Aleksander Zarzycki as well as Chaminade’s Etude symphonique, and Hommage Étude symphonique by Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco. Darius Milhaud’s Choral is a polytonal work, written in 5/4 time with both hands playing simultaneously in different keys! When given the commission for this work, Benjamin Britten misunderstood the ground rules and composed Mazurka elegiaca for two pianos instead of one, thus it had to be published in a separate volume. Again, here was a piece which reflected the dance music of Paderewski’s homeland.
Jonathan Plowright has been a profound advocate of the Polish Romantic repertoire and his interpretation here clearly illustrates his passion. His playing is understated yet precise, and although it would be easy to become brash or pedantic with this type of music, Plowright never ventures there and keeps things light but elegant. This sublime CD would be a welcome addition to any collection.