Szymanowski: 12 Études, Op. 33; Metopes, Op. 29; Masques, Op. 34; Mazurkas, Op. 50/7, 13 & 15 & Op. 62

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4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Szymanowski
LABELS: EMI
WORKS: 12 Études, Op. 33; Metopes, Op. 29; Masques, Op. 34; Mazurkas, Op. 50/7, 13 & 15 & Op. 62
PERFORMER: Mikhail Rudy (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: CDC 5 55390 2 DDD
This is a disc for those who prefer the ‘Hammerklavier’ school of Szymanowski playing. Rudy likes his decibels. Whether he knows his composer is a different question. All of these pieces date from 1915 and after, by which time Szymanowski had purified his bombastic style and enriched it with oriental colouring and subtle internal textures. The Metopes and Masques feature some of the most delicate instrumental writing he ever evolved. You might miss that here. True, there are moments of real quality. Rudy’s controlled, measured approach to ‘Shéhérazade’, with its Lisztian bell effects, owes much to a beautifully steady left hand; he has a marvellous way of rounding off phrases, and of effecting links between Études. Each generates a kind of poetry oddly lacking elsewhere. Thus, while his soave grates, his Chopinesque cantilenas scarcely sing, and the questing voluptuousness posited by the booklet note seems all but absent. Yet his laconically elephantine Sixth Étude is laced with wit, and the famous goral (mountain-music)-tinged Mazurka (Op. 50/7) acquires a charming (if not idiomatic) feel of its own. But this appassionato approach is all too airless and earthbound for me and is not, I hope, Mikhail Rudy’s last word on Szymanowski. For the all-important Masques, Stefanski on Polskie Nagrania or Doma´nska on Olympia would have my vote. Roderic Dunnett

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