Szymanowski: Piano Sonata No. 3; Mazurkas, Op. 50 – Nos 9-12; Masques, Op. 34; Métopes, Op. 29; Mazurkas, Op. 62

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COMPOSERS: Szymanowski
LABELS: BIS
WORKS: Piano Sonata No. 3; Mazurkas, Op. 50 – Nos 9-12; Masques, Op. 34; Métopes, Op. 29; Mazurkas, Op. 62
PERFORMER: Roland Pöntinen (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: BIS CD-1137

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Roland Pöntinen’s generously filled and beautifully engineered recital features three of Szymanowski’s most exotic and harmonically daring middle-period works together with a handful of Mazurkas that were composed near the end of his life.

The Swedish pianist gives very persuasive accounts of these later more emotionally restrained pieces projecting their melodic lines with great sensitivity without disrupting their natural dance-like flow.

This sense of forward momentum works particularly well in the more capricious movements of the Masques such as ‘Tantris le bouffon’ which is delivered with almost Bartókian stridency. The ‘Sérénade de Don Juan’ is no less thrilling with some brilliant cascading passage work that builds up a real head of steam.

Pöntinen is not quite as magical as Piotr Anderszewski when Szymanowski adopts a languid pose as in ‘Schéhérazade’ (from Masques) or in the almost Scriabinesque ‘L’île des sirénes’ (from Métopes).

In both pieces Anderszewski’s fundamental pacing of the music is considerably slower and the approach seems more indulgent than Pöntinen’s. But this extreme view of the music allows him more interpretative flexibility and he responds with greater spontaneity to the sudden changes of mood.

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A similar comparison can be made in the Third Sonata. Both pianists offer very convincing performances of this extraordinarily demanding work, but Anderszewski’s interpretation is ultimately the more exciting. Erik Levi