Scharwenka: Piano Sonata No. 2; Romanzero, Op. 33; Sonatina in E minor, Op. 52/1,

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COMPOSERS: Scharwenka
LABELS: Hyperion Helios
WORKS: Piano Sonata No. 2; Romanzero, Op. 33; Sonatina in E minor, Op. 52/1,
PERFORMER: Seta Tanyel (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: CDH 55132 Reissue (1992)
Both Xaver Scharwenka and his slightly younger contemporary Moritz Moszkowski were born in the mid-19th century in the western part of Poland, which belonged to Prussia at certain periods, and both composer-pianists gravitated towards Berlin. Seta Tanyel plays very nicely, but the first and third of Moszkowski’s Études de concert, Op. 24, could do with more fire, and the second with more intense expression. From this disc, you might think Moszkowski only a composer of watery charm, and surely it would have been possible for Tanyel to make his arrangement of Isolde’s Liebestod sound less as if the heroine were merely fainting.


Scharwenka, the younger (and more assertive) of two brothers, is best remembered for his complete editions of Chopin and Schumann, and he emerges here as a musical descendant of Chopin without any of his genius. The Classical-style Sonatina sounds a bit prim, but the Polish Dances, his best-known pieces, are delightful, while his Romanzero, a sort of four-movement fantasy, has a lot of charm as well as red-blooded energy. His longest solo piano work, the Second Sonata, falls short of its ambition to be heroic, though perhaps this would be less apparent in the hands of a more assertive pianist. Adrian Jack