Exoticism: The Music of Karol Szymanowski / Jerzy Kaplanek, violin; Stéphan Sylvestre, piano


Karol Szymanowksi was Poland's most celebrated composer from the first half of the 20th century. Titled 'Exoticism', this recent release on the Canadian Marquis label contains the composer's significant works for violin and piano performed by Jerzy Kaplanek and Stéphan Sylvestre.

The earliest work on the program, the Sonata in D minor, Op. 9 (1904) is from a time when Szymanowski's compositional style largely reflected music of the Romantic period, notably of Wagner, Strauss, Reger and Scriabin. However, a foreshadowing of music Szymanowski would produce about a decade later can be heard here, especially in the harmonic colorations. It is from this later period that the remaining works on the program are drawn. Here, Szymanowski's style has grown much more complex, an amalgam of many influences.

The sample of the album provided is the Tarantella from Nocturne and Tarantella, Op. 28 (1915). In it you can hear some of these influential affects as diverse as French Impressionism, Polish folk music, Aestheticism, Mysticism, modal tonalities and Mediterranean and Eastern influences. Szymanowski has bound all this into his own rhapsodic and intensely sensuous expressiveness, made more intricate as his cantabile lines are layered with technical embellishments. It is this sound that defines the title of the album, 'Exoticism'.

The writing for both instruments is very challenging, and these two artists deliver performances of a balanced, expressive virtuosity.

Listen to an historic recording from 1954 made by David Oistrakh of movement three from the early Violin Sonata to be found on this Marquis album.