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SZYMANOWSKA, Maria (1789-1831)

COMPLETE DANCES FOR SOLO PIANO


  • Alexander Kostritsa, piano

Displaying exceptional musical precocity, the young pianist Maria Szymanowska proved a sensation in Warsaw’s salons, before moving to Paris where her fame spread. Greatly admired by her contemporaries, who included Beethoven, Cherubini, Field and Tomášek, she later also cast a spell over the elderly Goethe during one of her many long European tours. Before her early death, from cholera, she was employed by the Russian imperial court as First Pianist to the empress. Written for the aristocratic salons of the day, Szymanowska’s collections of dances are, for the most part, pleasing and light, yet always inventive. These beautifully written miniatures also include more challenging pieces such as the Polonaise No. 4 and the Mazurka No.17 whose darker moments foreshadow the early German Romantics.

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Tracklist

 
18 Danses () (00:33:32 )
1
No. 1. Polonaise in C Major (00:03:09)
2
No. 2. Polonaise in E Minor (00:02:18)
3
No. 3. Polonaise in A Major (00:03:01)
4
No. 4. Polonaise in F Minor (00:03:57)
5
No. 5. Valse in E-Flat Major (00:01:26)
6
No. 6. Valse in A Major (00:01:58)
7
No. 7. Valse in B-Flat Major (00:01:28)
8
No. 8. Valse in F Major (00:00:50)
9
No. 9. Anglaise in E-Flat Major (00:00:46)
10
No. 10. Anglaise in B-Flat Major (00:00:35)
11
No. 11. Anglaise in A-Flat Major (00:00:44)
12
No. 12. Anglaise in E-Flat Major (00:00:46)
13
No. 13. Contre-danse in B-Flat Major (00:01:11)
14
No. 14. Contre-danse in A-Flat Major (00:00:48)
15
No. 15. Quadrille in E-Flat Major (00:01:02)
16
No. 16. Quadrille in F Major (00:01:22)
17
No. 17. Mazurek in C Major (00:01:14)
18
No. 18. Cotillon in A-Flat Major (00:07:05)
 
24 Mazurkas (1826) (00:00:00 )
19
Mazurka No. 1 (00:00:38)
20
Mazurka No. 2 (00:00:54)
21
Mazurka No. 3 (00:00:48)
22
Mazurka No. 4 (00:00:41)
23
Mazurka No. 5 (00:00:32)
24
Mazurka No. 6 (00:00:33)
25
Mazurka No. 7 (00:00:40)
26
Mazurka No. 8 (00:00:36)
27
Mazurka No. 9 (00:00:34)
28
Mazurka No. 10 (00:00:37)
29
Mazurka No. 11 (00:00:17)
30
Mazurka No. 12 (00:00:39)
31
Mazurka No. 13 (00:00:31)
32
Mazurka No. 14 (00:00:31)
33
Mazurka No. 15 (00:00:33)
34
Mazurka No. 16 (00:00:30)
35
Mazurka No. 17 (00:00:53)
36
Mazurka No. 18 (00:00:39)
37
Mazurka No. 19 (00:00:38)
38
Mazurka No. 20 (00:00:31)
39
Mazurka No. 21 (00:00:16)
40
Mazurka No. 22 (00:00:13)
41
Mazurka No. 23 (00:00:22)
42
Mazurka No. 24 (00:00:51)
 
6 Minuets () (00:15:59 )
43
No. 1 in A Minor: Allegretto (00:02:36)
44
No. 2 in G Minor: Quasi allegro (00:02:34)
45
No. 3 in E-Flat Major: Moderato (00:02:13)
46
No. 4 in G Minor: Vivace agitato (00:02:28)
47
No. 5 in E Major: Allegro (00:03:42)
48
No. 6 in D Minor: Vivace (00:02:29)
49
Polonaise sur l'air national favori du feu Prince Joseph Poniatowsky (1819) (00:02:33)
50
Danse polonaise () (00:03:39)
51
Cotillon ou valse figuree () (00:04:09)
Total Time: 01:14:00

The Artist

Alexander Kostritsa received his Bachelor and Master of Music degrees from the Moscow Tchaikovsky Conservatory, and his Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the Cleveland Institute of Music. Alexander Kostritsa is a prizewinner of international piano competitions, including the Premio Rovere d’Oro (Italy, 2007, 1st prize), the Slavic Music Festival (Ukraine, 2007, laureate), and the Paul Badura-Skoda (Spain, 2010, finalist). He made his international début when he was eight years old with a concert tour to Japan. Since then he has been performing as a soloist in Italy, France, Germany, Spain, South Korea, and the United States. He has appeared with the Moscow Chamber Orchestra “The Seasons”, the Kursk University Orchestra, the Vidin Philharmonic and other orchestras. He studied with Mikhail Petukhov in Moscow and with Antonio Pompa-Baldi in Cleveland.

The Composer

The young Maria Wołowska displayed extraordinary musical precocity and she quickly became a sensation in the Warsaw salons. To broaden her musical horizons, it was decided to send her to Paris, where her fame spread. There she impressed such luminaries as the composers Gioachino Rossini and Luigi Cherubini (who dedicated a piano fantasia to her).

After her return to Poland in 1810 she married Józef Szymanowski, a wealthy landowner, and before long there were three children (one of whom, Celina, later married Adam Mickiewicz, Poland’s national poet). The Szymanowskis’ marriage was not successful and it ended in divorce in 1820. Maria (who retained her married name for professional purposes) resumed her international career in 1815 and undertook some very long tours that included both private and public performances. It was during an arduous three-year tour of western Europe between 1823 and 1826 that she first met Goethe. She also had an audience with the British royal family, and in 1828 travelled to Russia, where she was employed by the imperial court as First Pianist to the empress. During the summer of 1831 Maria Szymanowska succumbed to a cholera epidemic that swept St Petersburg, and she died on 25 July, aged 41.

Through her own compositions, which appealed to professionals and amateurs alike, Szymanowska played an important part in the early development of that quintessentially Romantic musical phenomenon: the pianist-composer. She was greatly admired by her contemporaries, and her recitals routinely included works by living composers such as Hummel and Beethoven (whose Bagatelle in B flat, WoO 60, is dedicated to her). The influential Czech composer and teacher Václav Tomášek, who counted Beethoven and Goethe among his acquaintances, praised the clarity and attack of Szymanowska’s keyboard technique, and he also wrote enthusiastically of her inspirational performance style.

By the end of the nineteenth century salon music had become strongly associated with dilettantism and mass consumerism, but in earlier decades its defining characteristics were elegance and refinement. These qualities are admirably displayed in Szymanowska’s attractive collections of dances, which include polonaises, waltzes, mazurkas, quadrilles and contredanses (in addition to more unusual types such as cotillions and anglaises). Taken collectively, these dances are, for the most part, pleasing and light, with precisely the degree of imaginative artistic inventiveness needed to appeal to the aristocratic salons of the day.

Reviews

“…Kostritsa’s work in collecting these dances is commendable, as is his approach. In the Polonaises, his straightforward playing captures well the simple phrasing, form, and rather nondescript melody. …these works are pleasing.” – American Record Guide