One would expect a Polish pianist to bring an extra dimension of understanding when performing this great composer. These performances show that to be so, by tracing the composer’s early Chopin influences to his later more harmonically advanced interest in the oriental and the tortured chromaticism of Scriabin. Karaskiewicz’s program offers a good introduction to the composer, and her extensive notes are worthy of the highest praise.
Starting with the nine Preludes Op.l and four Etudes Op.4 Chopin is partly to the fore, though the influence is more structural than harmonic. The Preludes are more akin to Chopin’s Nocturnes rather than to his Preludes. The Etudes fit in more with Scriabin’s harmonic texture than they do as flights of virtuosic challenge for the pianist. There is also a profound emotional underpinning to Szymanowski’s pieces that seems to elude many players.
The Masques Op.34 are more extensive and more abstract impressionist in sound. ‘Scheherazade’ is somewhat exotic, while ‘Serenade of Don Juan’ fascinates, but not with alluring melody as one might expect. Ending with two Mazurkas Op.62 gives us a good sampling of this music.
Other fine recitals from Peter Anderszewski and Marc-Andre Hamelin stand high among the recommendations for this music, while Martin Roscoe gives us superlative performances of all of the keyboard music. Here is yet another great recital, a superb sampling. The plush fullness of the sound is an added attraction.