Szymanowski: Violin Sonata

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COMPOSERS: Szymanowski
LABELS: MDG
WORKS: Violin Sonata; Mythes, Op. 30; Three Paganini Caprices; Nocturne and Tarantella; Romance in D; Le berceuse d’Aïtacho Enia
PERFORMER: Joanna Madroszkiewicz (violin), Paul Gulda (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: MDG 603 1555-2

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Recordings of the complete Szymanowski violin music will always be welcome, but it is bad luck for this new release that it comes in the wake of Hyperion’s splendid issue featuring Alina Ibragimova and Cédric Tiberghien. For MDG, Polish violinist Joanna Madroszkiewicz joins pianist Paul Gulda to play an identical programme – though the six works are ordered differently – and offer some stimulating insights into this music.

But for all Madroszkiewicz’s musicianship and affinity with her compatriot composer, her tone sounds a little wiry in comparison with Ibragimova’s. There is perhaps less room between Gulda (son of Friedrich, no less) and Tiberghien, but Hyperion’s superior recorded sound allows the piano parts to bloom better.

The difference is especially noticeable because Madroszkiewicz and Gulda open with the Violin Sonata, Op. 9. An early work, it requires performers to throw themselves into its late Romantic style, and these players are slightly reticent. They do, however, convey the music’s structural clarity, and their strengths come to the fore as the recital proceeds.

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The Tarantella, a souvenir of Sicily where Szymanowski found inspiration for his opera King Roger, is exhilarating, and the Mythes are well characterised. The third of the Three Paganini Caprices is played with enough virtuosic abandon to make one forget the rival disc. John Allison