The Polish Violin, Vol. 2
Bacewicz: Kaprys Polski No. 1; Poldowski: Violin Sonata; Tango; Szymanowski: Violin Sonata; La Berceuse d’Aïtaxcho Enia; Paganini Caprices
Jennifer Pike (violin), Petr Limonov (piano)
Chandos CHAN 20189 75:29 mins
This is the second volume of a series that could theoretically run ad infinitum: with the exception of Chopin and his single-minded focus on the piano, Polish composers since the time of Karol Lipiński (Poland’s answer to Paganini) have contributed richly to the violin repertoire.
As in her first volume, Jennifer Pike (herself half-Polish) has chosen to anchor her survey to a substantial helping of Szymanowski, and she and pianist Petr Limonov open with a sweeping performance of the early Violin Sonata. It’s a conventional work in many ways, but a compelling one – especially in the scherzando middle section of the slow movement, where the players’ pizzicato and staccato textures add to the state of rhythmic flux. Szymanowski’s middle and late periods are represented too, although in the case of the Trois Caprices the music is based on Paganini – Szymanowski showing his inventiveness with that famous theme before Rachmaninov got there. The haunting Berceuse d’Aïtacho Enia inspires a subtle palette of colours from Pike.
Not inappropriately, the shadow of Franck hovers over the substantial Sonata of Poldowski, the pseudonym of the Polish-Belgian-British composer Irène Régine Wieniawska, daughter of the great Lublin-born composer-violinist Henryk Wieniawski. For all the work’s rhapsodic qualities there is formal rigour, and this performance, which also demands – and receives – pianistic virtuosity, will leave listeners wondering why they haven’t heard it before. Two short works, the solo Kaprys Polski by Grażyna Bacewicz and the Tango by Poldowski, function as well-deserved encores.