About this Recording
9.70192 - Violin Recital: Augustyn, Kinga - ZARZYCKI, A. / NOSKOWSKI, Z. / LIPINSKI, K. / DROZDZEWSKI, P. / GORECKI, H. (Polish Violin Music)

Zarzycki • Noskowski • Drożdżewski • Górecki • Paderewski • Lutosławski • Lipiński


The Polish violin tradition is well represented in this programme of varied and fascinating violin pieces.

Aleksander Zarzycki was born in 1834 in Lwów. While studying piano with Rudolf Viole in Berlin he also pursued a career on the concert stage. He later studied composition in Paris and gave the premières of his Grand Polonaise, Op 7, and Piano Concerto, Op 17, in 1860. For a time he lived the life of a travelling virtuoso, but from 1865 he lived a more stationary existence based in Warsaw, turning mainly to teaching and composing. He was the founder and first director of the Warsaw Music Society and later became the director of the Music Institute, where he reformed the curriculum and employed the youthful Paderewski as one of the Institute’s instructors. Like Chopin, whose influence they reflect, many of Zarzycki’s works consisted of miniatures for the salon. Zarzycki composed works for piano, orchestra, orchestra and solo instrument, and 65 songs. He died in Warsaw in 1895. The programme begins with five pieces by Zarzycki for violin and piano (all these pieces also exist in violin and orchestra versions): two mazurkas for violin and piano in G major, Op 26 (1884) and E major, Op 39 (1895); the Introduction and Cracovienne, Op 35, for violin and piano; the Andante et Polonaise, Op 23 (1876); and the Romance, Op 16 (1876). The virtuosic Mazurka, Op 26, (originally dedicated to Sarasate) was a staple of an older generation of violinists such as Maud Powell and David Oistrakh. Zarzycki’s music represents the romantic ethos of the nineteenth century: the introspection of the Mazurka in E; the lyric Introduction and mellow Cracovienne; the mournful Andante followed by the vigorous and stately Polonaise, and the song-like Romance.

Zygmunt Noskowski was born in Warsaw in 1846. He studied at the Music Institute in Warsaw as well as in Berlin. He served as director of a singing society in Konstanz from 1875 until 1880, returning to Warsaw in 1881 and remaining an integral part of musical life in the city until his death in 1909. Among other activities, he attempted to create a regular symphony orchestra, was a professor of composition at the Music Institute, and was conductor of the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra from 1905 to 1908. Noskowski was one of the most significant Polish composers of the nineteenth century and wrote in nearly all genres: ballet, opera, sacred works, symphonies, symphonic poems, and smaller works (including works for children), especially for piano. He also pursued a parallel career as a music critic and journalist. Noskowski’s Chanson ancienne, Op 24, No 1 (No 2 is Chanson moderne) is a soulful lyric piece that shows the violin’s singing quality to great effect.

Piotr Drożdżewski was born in Zbąszyń, Poland in 1948. Much like Borodin in the nineteenth century, Drożdżewski followed another profession while at the same time pursuing a successful career as a composer. He studied at the Wrocław Academy of Music, graduating in 1977, while also earning a doctorate degree in chemistry from the University of Technology, where he became a professor of chemistry. Bach is a leading influence, and Drożdżewski once stated that while he does not “write fugues” in Bach’s style, his aim is nevertheless to “take care of the beauty” of individual voices. His music includes string quartets (1976, 1978, 1981), a Sinfonia da Camera (1980), a Cadenza “Es ist genug” for harpsichord (1982), a Sonata for Two Violins (1983), Novels for piano (1984), Ballade for clarinet and strings (1997), and Cross and Child (a poem for mixed choir, 2006). Drożdżewski’s two Caprices (1990) for solo violin honour two great violin virtuosos: Lipiński (Caprice No1) and Paganini (Caprice No 2). Drożdżewski honours both the tradition of solo caprices or études, which are typically difficult “study” works, while at the same time paying tribute to violin masters of the past, including the use of Paganini’s La Campanella theme from the Rondo of the Violin Concerto No 2.

Henryk Górecki was born in Czernica, Poland in 1933. After studying at the Katowice Music Academy from 1955- 1960, he subsequently taught at the same institution and was appointed Professor of Composition in 1975 until his 1979 resignation in protest over the government’s refusal to permit Pope John Paul II to visit Katowice. One of the leading composers of the latter half of the twentieth century, he first became known as an avant-garde composer with his Scontri in 1960. Though enjoying some success (Refren; the First Symphony), Gorecki first became known outside Poland in the 1980s by his association with the Danish Lerchenborg Festival and with the Kronos Quartet commissioned First String Quartet (“Already It Is Dusk”). He became internationally famous with the release of the London Sinfonietta’s version (with Dawn Upshaw) of the Third Symphony, the Symphony of Sorrowful Songs, in 1992 (the symphony was composed in 1976 and had been recorded several times), and it eventually sold more than one million copies. Górecki died in Katowice in 2010. Górecki’s Sonatina in One Movement, Op 8 (1956), for violin and piano, begins with an angular forward-moving theme which is spelled by a quieter section before a hard-driving conclusion. The Variazioni, Op 4 (1956), for violin and piano, features variations of great emotional variety, from vigorous and brusque to soulful and meditative. Górecki’s Little Fantasia, Op 73 (1997), for violin and piano opens with violin alone, soon joined by the piano. After building in intensity, the music becomes quiet, coming to a full stop. The soft wandering melody winds down to a hushed conclusion featuring soft chords and pizzicato.

Ignacy Paderewski, born in the Podalia Governorate in 1860 (part of an administrative unit, mostly in present-day Ukraine, that the Russian Empire created after the second partition in 1793), was perhaps the most famous Polish musician of his time, assuming a near-cult status which led eventually to a career in politics. He was admitted to the Music Institute in Warsaw at the age of twelve and had graduated by the age of eighteen. A visit to Berlin, where he met Richard Strauss and Anton Rubinstein, fortified his resolve to continue his musical career. His compositions were launched in the 1880s with the publication of a number of salon pieces, and with further lessons in Vienna, a teaching stint at the Strasbourg Conservatoire, and triumphant concerts in Paris, he soon began a series of concert tours across Europe and America that made him one of the most famous musicians of his time. Though Paderewski wrote several large scale works, including a symphony and the opera Manru (1901), he is perhaps best remembered for his many piano works. A charismatic performer (though succumbing several times to nervous exhaustion), he was also a champion of Polish causes, which culminated in his appointment in January 1919 as Prime Minister of Poland. Paderewski served as Polish representative to the Versailles Peace Conference in Paris, but by the end of 1919 he resigned as Prime Minister. While not giving up politics entirely, he spent most of the remainder of his life as a concert musician. He died in New York in 1941. Paderewski’s Chanson for violin and piano sings a flowing melody in the best lyric style.

Witold Lutosławski was born in Warsaw in 1913. Lutosławski trained both as pianist and violinist and was admitted to the Conservatory in 1927, receiving the piano diploma in 1936. His Symphonic Variations were performed in 1939, but his musical career was interrupted by World War II. Captured by the Russians, he escaped after eight days and made his way back to Warsaw. After the war and in need of money, he composed many popular pieces (such as children’s songs for Polish Radio) while continuing to compose concert music. His First Symphony was labeled “formalist” by the Communist authorities and was not performed for nearly a decade after its première. The Concerto for Orchestra (1954) established Lutosławski as preeminent among his generation of Polish composers. Throughout his career he composed in various styles: music influenced by folk-music, twelve-tone music (as in Muzyka żałobna, 1958), and what he termed “aleatory technique”, which hinges partly on an indeterminacy of ensemble (such as Jeux vénitiens). A leader during the Solidarity era, he was inducted into the Order of the White Eagle (proscribed by the Communists) in 1994, just one month before his death. Lutosławski‘s Recitativo et Arioso begins introspectively in the violin, with a scampering motif in the piano. The arioso is quiet and sad, building to a climax before a quiet ending that recalls the scampering motif.

Karol Lipiński was born in 1790 near Lublin. His father was director of music for the aristocratic Potockis, and in this music-friendly setting young Karol made rapid progress. Lipiński’s father moved the family to Lwów (Lemberg in German, the capital of the Austrian partition called Galicia), where he served as Kapellmeister for Count Starzenski. In 1809 Lipiński was appointed concertmaster of the Lwów Theatre, and pursued a brief career in light opera. An 1814 visit to Vienna, where he heard Louis Spohr perform, persuaded him to abandon the theatre in favour of the life of a virtuoso. In 1817 he departed for Italy with the aim of hearing Paganini; he later appeared in concert with the great Italian. He travelled throughout Europe, coming into contact with Schumann, Mendelssohn, Chopin, Wagner, Berlioz, Wieniawski, and Joachim. In 1839 Lipiński moved his family to Dresden after his appointment as concertmaster of the royal orchestra. He moved to an estate near Lwów in 1861 and established a music school for peasant children, but died shortly afterwards in December 1861. The programme concludes with two Lipiński Impromptus, Op 34, for solo violin. All the violinist’s technical arsenal is on display in these fine virtuosic works.

Bruce R. Schueneman

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