Nelson Goerner

Nowakowski: Piano Quintet, Op. 17; Krogulski: Piano Octet, Op. 6

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Western listeners may well assume that the composers represented on this Polish release are of the sort who are well-known in their native country but neglected elsewhere; in fact, one learns that they are obscure even in Poland itself, which makes this a major rediscovery on the part of the Fryderyk Chopin Institute in Warsaw. Both these works were written in the 1830s, by which time Chopin had had time to become a major celebrity, but neither attempts to replicate his achievement (he didn't write much chamber music anyway). Instead, the model for both is the large chamber compositions of Hummel, with the influence of Chopin appearing mostly in the richly ornamented slow movements and second subjects of the outer movements. Sample the opening movement of the Piano Quintet in E flat major, Op. 17 of Jozef Nowakowski, whose second subject lives up to proclamations of its great beauty. This quintet, for the Hummel complement of violin, viola, cello, bass, and piano, is full of strong tunes, while Jozef Krogulski's Octet in D minor, Op. 6 uses the Hummel and Chopin influences in a different way, with a mysterious chromatic opening and various other formal freedoms. The performances here, with pianist Nelson Goerner leading mixed groups of Polish and German players, are elegant, but both works are deserving of more frequent performance, and both make you want to hear more from the Institute's Music of Chopin's Time series. The music is beautifully recorded at the Lutoslawski Studio of Polish Radio.

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