Anna Szalucka: A Century Of Polish Piano Miniatures

review polish miniature piano x1 cong

This is a pianists’ piano album, as Szalucka is an exceptional pianist and can play both softly and very intensely; a couple of moments on this CD are incredibly fast.

She’s won more prizes than you can shake a metronome at: 1st prize together with the Eller, orchestra, recital and Estonian Museum Awards at the third Tallinn International Piano Competition; 1st in the Young Pianists Forum in Rybnik and the 2nd prize and the special prize of Jerzy Waldorff on IX International Competition for Young Pianists “Arthur Rubinstein in Memoriam” in Bydgoszcz, Poland. And so on.

She was selected by the Musicians’ Company to give her Wigmore Hall debut recital in 2016.

This CD goes on a journey through what the PR notes call “a golden era in Polish music”, from Paderewski via Szymanowski, Bacewicz and Gorecki, to present day composers.

This collection coincides with Poland’s centenary of independence in 2018 with each work representing moments in the country’s musical and political history.

“My goal was to explore and present to the audience the real jewels of Polish piano literature from the post-Chopin era,” she says on her website.

It opens with Ignacy Jan Paderewski’s 6 Humoresques De Concert, Op 14 (1887), which is gentle music for the salon, nicely cultivated, speeding up for the third section, Caprice.

Karol Szymanowski’s 20 Mazurkas, Op 50 is next, moving into a more reflective sound, starting off slowly before becoming more forceful and intense by the end. Thus far it’s been more European in sound but with Grazyna Bacewicz’s Piano Sonata No 2 there’s more of Polish feel, and a more modernist one, the music becoming more intense, less the cultivated and more the dramatic, martial in the Largo. By Pawel Mykietyn 4 Preludia it’s full-on dramatic, though it does have lulls. (Mykietyn scored the 2013 film Walesa Man of Hope).

Impressive playing and an interesting album as well, nicely pitched between easy on the ear and difficult. Out now on Grand Piano, GP793.

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