By no means a virtuoso pianist, Karol Szymanowski nonetheless devoted a considerable amount of effort to composing solo piano music, at times dazzling artists like Arthur Rubinstein with his inventiveness and originality. In many ways like his contemporary, Alexander Scriabin, Szymanowski developed an opulent Romantic style, reminiscent of Chopin, into a more complex melding of impressionistic tone colors and dissonant textures that explored the limits of conventional tonality. While the youthful Preludes, Op. 1 offer a nostalgic sentimentality, and the Études, Op. 4 reveal an interest in advanced techniques beyond Szymanowski's own skills, the percussive sonorities and knotty harmonies characteristic of the Études, Op. 33 and Masques, Op. 34 shows a modernistic edge that cuts through conventions. Andrea Vivanet plays five selections from the Preludes, Op. 1, but performs the remaining sets in their entirety, demonstrating both his agility in the most difficult passages and an alertness to their shifting moods, as well as energetic responses to their frequent fiery outbursts. The haunting poetry of Masques makes it one of Szymanowski's masterpieces, and Vivanet handles its shimmering effects with a sensitivity that fully captures its fleeting shades of light and darkness.
AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson
|Préludes, Op. 1|
|Études Op. 4|
|Études Op. 33|
|Masques Op. 34|