Zélenski • Zarzycki: Piano Concertos

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COMPOSERS: Zélenski; Zarzycki
LABELS: Hyperion
ALBUM TITLE: Zélenski • Zarzycki: Piano Concertos
WORKS: Zélenski: Piano Concerto in E flat, Op. 60; Zarzycki: Piano Concerto in A flat, Op. 17; Grande Polonaise in E flat, Op. 7
PERFORMER: Jonathan Plowright (piano); BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra/Lukasz Borowicz


Even in the crowded field of rare Romantic piano concertos, the Polish composers Wadysaw Zele´nski (1837-1921) and Aleksander Zarzycki have something particularly satisfying to bring to Hyperion’s invaluable series. Not many works by Zele´nski survive, but those that have been recorded bear consistent witness to a warm and attractive style. The Concerto in E flat, premiered by its dedicatee, Ignacy Friedman, in 1904 and recorded here for the first time, is an imposing piece: its technical challenges are exhilaratingly dispatched by Jonathan Plowright, while no detail of its dark Slavonic colouring escapes the attention of the conductor ukasz Borowicz, who draws finely responsive accompaniments from the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra.

Belonging to an earlier generation, the virtually forgotten Zarzycki (1843-95) stands up well here, too, in his lyrical and brilliant two-movement Piano Concerto in A flat, dedicated to Nikolai Rubinstein. Composing in Chopin’s wake, Zarzycki incorporated dance forms into his music, and the Grande Polonaise recalls the great Polish master in its sparkling elegance. It’s performed with the right degree of stately swagger.


John Allison