The Polish Violin
Szymanowski: Mythes; Nocturne and Tarantella; Chant de Roxane; Romance; Moszkowski: Guitarre Op. 45 No. 2; Karłowicz: Impromptu; Wieniawski: Op. 17 Légende
Jennifer Pike (violin), Petr Limonov (piano)
Chandos CHAN 20082 75:16 mins
Jennifer Pike’s exceptional sensitivity to tonal inflection and temporal flexibility works wonders in Szymanowski’s Mythes, whose bar-line-free invocations of Greek mythology create the impression of profoundly inspired extemporisations. No less bewitching is the Op. 28 Nocturne and Tarantella, in which Pike intoxicates the senses – rather appropriately as the Tarantella was apparently composed following a heavy drinking session – via a captivating range of tonal colours, dynamic inflection and articulation. The fact that Szymanowski composed music of such profound eloquence for the violin was due almost entirely to his friendship with virtuoso Paul Kochanski, who arranged the Chant de Roxane (from King Roger) and to whom the Op. 23 Romance is dedicated, both lustrously inspired works which Pike sends soaring aloft with radiant allure.
Had it not been for a fatal skiing accident, Mieczysław Karłowicz might well have become the most celebrated Polish composer of his generation. On paper, his 1895 Impromptu may owe a profound debt to Tchaikovsky (its opening phrase recalls unmistakably the Russian’s Op. 42/3 Mélodie), yet Pike invests it with such open-air freshness and gentle affection that it emerges as though hot off the press. Pike proves no less winning in Moszkowski’s enchanting Guitarre and smoulders seductively in Wieniawski’s Op. 17 Légende. In his famous Op. 4 Polonaise she relishes the music’s dancing contours in a way that more headlong accounts tend to skate over. Petr Limonov partners her devotedly with great skill and sensitivity, captured in exemplary sound by producer Rachel Smith and engineers Jonathan Cooper and Cheryl Jessop.