Polish Romantic Music

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Chopin,Dobrzynski,Elsner,Krogulski,Kurpi´nski,Mikuli,Ogi´nski,Szymanowska,Za√uski and Friedman
LABELS: National Institute Fryderyk Chopin
WORKS: Works by Ogi´nski, Kurpi´nski, Szymanowska, Elsner, Chopin, Dobrzynski, Krogulski, Mikuli, Za√uski and Friedman
PERFORMER: Tobias Koch (piano)


Powerhouse of the period piano movement, Warsaw’s Chopin Institute under the artistic direction of Stanisław Leszczyn´ski continues to venture where no recordings have gone before. Even by its own high standards, this new release featuring the German pianist Tobias Koch offers something uncommonly fresh and entrancing, a journey through the world of Polish character pieces – principally polonaises and mazurkas – from before, during and even after Chopin’s time. The sentimental tone of these modest works is captured in the dusky, introverted sounds of no fewer than four period pianos: two Erards and two Pleyels dating from between 1838 and c1854 are exquisitely recorded here.

The wide-ranging programme opens with Michał Ogin´ski’s popular polonaise, ‘Farewell to the Homeland’, written the year before Poland lost her independence in 1795. It takes a musician of Koch’s stature to find its melancholy depth, and he does so too with other unpretentious miniatures by such composers as Józef Elsner (Chopin’s teacher) and Karol Mikuli (a Chopin pupil). Two mazurkas by Chopin himself are included, but it is good to hear more than usual of Maria Szymanowska – a player idiolised by many including Goethe and the mother-in-law of Poland’s arch-poet Adam Mickiewicz – and Karol Kurpin´ski. Koch’s understanding of the simple rhetoric and gesture here allows him to trace the path from these little pieces to Chopin’s masterful mazurkas. An unmissable disc.


John Allison