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CR-103. Szymanovski in Russia
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CR-103. Szymanovski in Russia

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Weight: 120 g

The piano works by one of the greatest Polish composers Karol Szymanowski (1882 - 1937) presents the exclusive phenomenon in the piano music of the XXth century. The specific features of Szymanowski's music are "synthetic" manner to combine different styles, the interaction of the Polish piano school traditions and foreign influences. This position has formed thanks to impressions of composer's youth that was spent in Russia in family estate Timoshovka near Kiev. During winter time, Karol studied at the college and also at the music school organized by Gustav Neugaus with his cousin Henry Neugaus in Elizavetgrad (Kirovograd in Soviet years). Szymanowski family was related with famous piano dynasties such as Blumenfelds, Taubes and Neugauses, so intensive interest of the young composer to piano music was understandable. In 1901 - 1905, Szymanowski took private lessons with professors Zawirski and Noskowski in Warsaw; after successful premiere of his Second symphony and Second piano sonata in Vienna composer signed the contract with Universal Edition which helped him to get international promotion.

The main influences on composer's works of 1913 - 1919 were the aesthetics of Secession and Symbolism and also impressions from many travels to Italy and the Near East. After his return to Timoshovka from the North Africa, Szymanowski was forced to stay in Russia; in winter time, the family rented a house in the centre of Kiev. In spite of the war, composer's work was very successful; his compositions were performed first in Russia and were recognized by famous Russian musicians Asafiev, Mjaskovsky, Prokofiev, Ziloti, Koussevitzky, Rachmaninov, Gliere. All Szymanowski's projects came to a stop after the revolution, nevertheless after the Soviets were established in Elizavetgrad, Szymanowski together with Henry Neugaus took part in several concert events. In June 1918, Szymanowski received the proposal from Universal Edition to move to Vienna; however, he refused as in this case his family would have to stay in Russia. In Autumn 1919, thanks to new political situation Szymanowski returned to Poland, he visited Russia with recitals only in 1933 - 1934.

The piano compositions of these Russian years are presented on this CD; all of them were composed in Timoszovka and first performed in Russia. The idea of the cycle of poems Metopes (1915) appeared under composer's impression from ancient bas-relief - metopes in Sicily. The program of the work is connected with the heroines of Odyssey by Homer - fantastic sirens, nymph Calipso, and a daughter of King of the Phaeacians Nausicaa. The poems were dedicated to girls - friends and sisters of Karol Szymanowski Lola Rostiszewska, Anna Szymanowska, Marianna Davydova.

The cycle Masks (1916) occupies significant place in Szymanowski's works. Pieces were dedicated to performers of composer's works - to young pianist Alexander Dubjanski, who introduced Masks in Petrograd (Petesburg) on the 12th of October, 1916; Harry (as Szymanowski called his cousin) Neugaus and Arthur Rubinstein. In Masks, Szymanowski turned to the music of the Near East and to the heroes of the Chivalry, such as Tristan (Tantris) and Don Juan who became symbols in Romantic art. Extreme emotions and bright sound contrasts allow to classify this cycle as an expressionistic work.

Twelve Etudies (1916) were dedicated to a French pianist Alfred Cortot and have original composition of contrasting miniatures, which follow attacca. In Polish piano music this composition is the first experience on the field of contemporary pianism.

The Third Sonata (1917) was dedicated to a Russian pianist and conductor Alexander Ziloti, who worked for the premieres of Szymanowski's compositions. In summer of 1918, Henry Neugaus introduced the sonata in Kiev. Thanks to Henry the copy of manuscript was saved and transmitted to Universal Edition.

Olga Sobakina

Olga Sobakina graduated from the Gnesins Institute in Moscow as a pupil of Lina Bulatova; in 1995, she followed the post-graduate course at the Moscow Conservatory as a pupil of Victor Merzhanov. Olga Sobakina takes part in many musical events. She has performed with orchestras since 1980, gave solo recitals in Moscow and many other Russian cities as well as for Russian Radio, and appeared in Poland in many International Festivals and on other occasions at which her programs were recorded by the Polish Radio and TV. She received awards at the Claude Kahn European Piano Competition and at the Festival "France Piano International" (Paris, 1995-1996), performed in France, USA and Finland. In 2004, she received the degree Doctor of Fine Arts for research "Stylistics of Szymanowski's piano works". Olga Sobakina published many articles on Szymanowski's piano works, and her extensive repertory (about 30 concertos and 20 recital programs) includes two recital programs and the 4th Symphony Concertante by this composer. In Olga Sobakina' performances, Polish critics marked "exclusive skill, great musical talent, sophisticated interpretation and also boldness to perform music by Szymanowski, which is either unknown for Polish or incomprehensible for them".

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