The Strad Issue: January 2014
Description: Luxuriant accounts of the composer’s chamber music for violin
Musicians: Jerzy Kaplanek (violin) Stéphan Sylvestre (piano)
Composer: Szymanowski

Szymanowski’s violin music owes its very existence to his friend, violinist Pawel Kocha?ski. ‘I am indebted to him alone,’ the composer declared, ‘for imparting to me his profoundly penetrating, secret knowledge of the violin.’ Both of the concertos and virtually every note in this fine recital was written for Kocha?ski, with the exception of the B minor Prelude, a piano original played here in Graz?yna Bacewicz’s expert arrangement.

Jerzy Kaplanek, a distinguished member of the Penderecki Quartet, and pianist Stéphan Sylvestre form an outstanding duo whose deep musical sympathies allow them to think as one, most notably in the three Mythes, whose intoxicating musical flow, freed from the tyranny of the bar-line, creates a series of enraptured phrases of heightened lyrical intensity. In the D minor Sonata they triumph over the music’s tendency to luxuriate in heightened mood swings without an especially strong sense of emotional narrative, imparting a beguiling sensuality and volubility to Szymanowski’s stream of consciousness that is highly compelling.

The sense of staring at two sides of an emotional coin is also strikingly captured in the Nocturne and Tarantella, which offsets music of dreamlike, Scriabinesque ‘exoticism’ (to quote the album’s title) with an Italianate, outdoor vigour. The Song of Roxane in Kocha?ski’s transcription simmers seductively, enhanced by the warm yet tactile engineering. An outstanding release.

Sound Clip: Szymanowski Mythes op.30 - Dryades et Pan

Julain Haylock