Zarebski: Piano Quintet in G minor

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LABELS: Frederick Chopin Institute
ALBUM TITLE: Zarebski: Piano Quintet in G minor
WORKS: Piano Quintet in G minor
PERFORMER: Bartlomiej Nizol, Agata Szymczewska (violins),Lyda Chen (viola), Alexander Neustroev (cello), Martha Argerich (piano)


Filmed sometime after midnight at a special late-night concert at the 2011 ‘Chopin and his Europe’ festival in Warsaw, this captures an extraordinary performance of an extraordinary work. The star draw is the normally elusive Martha Argerich, bringing her volcanic pianism to bear on a work she had just added to her repertoire – the Piano Quintet in G minor of Juliusz Zare˛bski of 1885, one of the towering pieces of Polish chamber music but a score still too little appreciated outside Poland. As the performance proves, Zare˛bski’s name sits comfortably with Schumann, Brahms and Franck – whose piano quintets preceded his – and also such figures as Dvoπák, Fauré, Elgar and Shostakovich in this corner of the chamber music literature.

Written in 1885, the year of Zare˛bski’s early death aged only 31, and dedicated to his teacher Liszt, this is a work of intense emotional drive. The Scherzo, with rhythms evoking the galloping of a horse, is the most distinctively Polish of the movements, and follows a deeply melancholy Adagio. This outstanding line-up of musicians – including Argerich’s daughter Lyda Chen on viola – delivers an intensely committed performance of the Piano Quintet, full of freedom and flexibility.

Superbly filmed but simply presented, there are no extras here: nothing more is needed given the impact of this music.


John Allison