Dobrzynski

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COMPOSERS: Dobrzynski/Lessel
LABELS: National Institute Fryderyk Chopin
ALBUM TITLE: Dobrzynski
WORKS: Piano Concerto in A flat, Op. 2
PERFORMER: Sinfonia Varsovia/Howard Shelley (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: NIFCCD

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It is seldom that recordings convey such a sense of lost beauty recovered as these in the Music of Chopin’s Time series. Though rare, both these Piano Concertos have been previously recorded, yet in the hands of Howard Shelley and the Sinfonia Varsovia they yield up fresh secrets and reveal a delicate musical landscape as never before. Marginally the better known of the two, Franciszek Lessel’s Piano Concerto in C was premiered in Warsaw in 1810 just days after Chopin’s birth, and its sparkling lyricism bears evidence of the composer’s studies with Haydn. Yet for all his experience of Vienna, the composer was able to stamp a distinctively Polish mark in the mazurka-imbued finale.

Feliks Dobrzyn´ski had already written his early Piano Concerto in A flat when he became a fellow classmate of Chopin under the eminent Warsaw teacher Józef Elsner. Such features as the slow movement’s recitative, played by the piano in octaves over an orchestral tremolo, have led to speculation over whether Chopin took this as a model for his Piano Concerto in F minor. Even though Dobrzyn´ski never reaches Chopin’s inspired heights, this is a fascinating work whose structural and textural strengths are illuminated in Shelley’s performances. Hats off to the Chopin Institute’s Stanisław Leszczyn´ski, responsible for this CD series, and to the sound quality of these live festival performances.

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John Allison