Jennifer Pike / Petr Limonov

The Polish Violin

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The title The Polish Violin suggests a kind of survey, and advertising for this album, cutting and pasting from the introduction of the booklet notes, mentions Grazyna Bacewicz and other Polish composers who have written for the violin. In fact, none of these composers appear on the program, which is dominated by the music of a single composer, Karol Szymanowski. Once you know what you're getting into, however, the news is extremely good. None of the music here is exactly common, except perhaps in Poland, but all of it is worth getting to know. Polish violin music has a reputation for being virtuosic, but the three Mythes, Op. 30, of Szymanowski are not so much virtuoso works as densely expressive and programmatic counterparts of Szymanowski's symphonies and stage works. Sample the gorgeous "Chant de Roxane" from the opera Król Roger, here idiomatically arranged for violin and piano, which will also give you an idea of the passionate commitment British violinist Jennifer Pike brings to this music (her mother was Polish, and she has traveled frequently to that country to visit relatives and speaks the language). The beginning also demonstrated the care taken by Chandos engineers, working at Potton Hall: Pike's playing here is made intensely immediate without pushing the sound over the edge. After the four works by Szymanowski, the music broadens out into the more stirring kind of thing you may be expecting, and here, too, Pike excels with commanding performances in works by Moritz Moszkowski, Mieczyslaw Karlowicz, and finally, to leave you with feet tapping, Henryk Wieniawski. The young Russian-British pianist Petr Limonov knows enough to stay out of Pike's way. A highly satisfying recital.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
Mythes, Op. 30 for Violin and Piano
1 6:15
2 8:40
3 8:34
Nocturne and Tarantella, Op. 28 for Violin and Piano
4 5:39
5 5:43
Król Roger, Op. 46
6 5:37
7 7:00
8 4:10
9 8:54
10 8:15
11 6:23
blue highlight denotes track pick