KAROL SZYMANOWSKI
Complete music for Violin and Piano

CD 1

Sonata in D minor - M9 - Op.9
1. I Allegro moderato Patetico
2. II Andantino tranquillo e dolce - Scherzando (più moto) - Tempo I
3. III Finale: Allegro molto, quasi presto

4. Piesn Roksany - Chant de Roxane

5. Taniec z "Harnasiów" - Dance from Harnasie
6. Romance in D Major - M23 - Op.23

Three Capriccios of Paganini - M42 - Op.40
7. I 20 Andante dolcissimo - Vivace scherzando - Andante dolcissimo
8. II 21 Adagio (molto espressivo ed affetuoso)
9. III 24 Thème Variè: Vivace - Variations I-X

CD 2

Mythes - M29 - Op.30
1. I La Fontaine d'Arethuse
2. II Narcisse
3. III Dryades et Pan

4. La Berceuse d'Aïtacho Enia - M28 - Op.52
5. L'Aube
6. Danse Sauvage

7. Zarzyjze kuniu (Kurpian Song) - M69 - Op.58 No.9

Nocturne and Tarantella - M30 - Op.28
8. Nocturne

9. Tarantella

 

Musical Opinion, James Palmer ****

"Here is an extremely valuable and most welcome set of records, bringing together on two CDs the complete music for violin and piano by the greatest Polish composer since Chopin. Those who know his two magnificent Violin Concertos will need no second bidding to listen to and hopefully acquire this beautifully performed and excellently recorded set, for such works as the D minor Sonata and the Mythes are well worth anyone's attention, and the shorter pieces, which embrace several quite well-known works more often encountered as encores, are equally deserving of the intelligent music-lover's attention. Bruno Monitero is a gifted violinist, of that one can have no doubt, and he is admirably partnered by João Paulo Santos, the result being an eminently recommendable issue which in our opinion has no equal. A very strongly recommended issue".

 

MusicWeb International, Roy Westbrook

“All these pieces are given very good performances by the excellent duo of Portuguese violinist Bruno Monteiro, and pianist João Paulo Santos. They enjoy the exotic colours and indulge the luscious harmonies in both the three Mythes and the Sonata. (…) the skills of Monteiro are well attuned to the needs of the idiom. He always sounds engaged and passionately committed, with plenty of colour and spirit in his playing”.

 

Público, Pedro Boléo

"This recording has the virtue of recall and renew this complicity between two musicians in a current partnership between two Portuguese artists who do not give up and disseminate good music. (...) The challenge is great in all three "paraphrases" of the Paganini Caprices, which required Bruno Monteiro a difficult virtuosity to revisit. (...) The best of this issue is on the second CD in Mythes op.30, a work of a hundred years ago (1915) when demand aesthetic Szymanowski and Kochansky, takes us on very curious paths and the difficulty is not only playing all the notes- is to understand and build a coherent discourse. The violin and piano dynamic and invent new sounds with the violin drawing melodies ranging up to very high notes, and the piano in surprising harmonic transitions that already correspond to a different conception of his early works ".

 

BBC Music Magazine, Julian Haylock ****

“Portuguese virtuosos Monteiro and Santos, captured in opulent sound, hurl themselves into the virtuoso fray where appropriate, steering the music’s sometimes meandering course with a firm rudder”.

 

Musical Opinion, Robert Matthew-Walker *****

“I am surprised that no-one has ever thought of this before - the fully complete, music for violin and piano by this great Polish master. Apart from the masterly large-scale Sonata and other shorter well-known pieces, this collection includes all of the known transcriptions either made or sanctioned by the composer, whose association with the great Paul Kochanski produced this splendid set of works. The performances are uniformly excellent, as is the recording. Here is a very highly desirable and recommended issue, one of the most significant to have been released in recent years with regard towards a completion of this wonderful composer's music being made available on compact disc. It is, therefore, strongly recommended”.

 

Classical.net, Brian Wigman

“Every release from Bruno Monteiro and João Paulo Santos confirms them as a tremendously adventurous and musical partnership. Now that they can be found on labels like Naxos and Brilliant Classics, I hope the two will gain more exposure. While they have focused on a mix of neglected Romantic repertoire and Portuguese masterpieces in previous projects, I believe this release to be their most important yet (…) Bruno Monteiro has just the right tone for this music, as he vividly paints these mythological stories for us. (…) Here at least is a project of real importance and wide musical appeal”.

 

Expresso, João Santos

A definitive Szymanowski

"This generous set of Szymanowski´s complete music for violin and piano by Bruno Monteiro and João Paulo Santos, is of remarkable fidelity, accurately identifying the distinctive phases of the romanticism, symbolism and nationalism, keeping the linearity when the music demands, succumbing to the spell of color when she so requires, making the allegorical sounds as nothing more than naivety seems possible. At the same time, it let´s the artists being tempted by the transcendence, dodging context, denying ideology and it´s launching sensuality. It is in these moments that arises here a definitive Szymanowski”.

 

Klassik Magazin, Michael Loos

"Bruno Monteiro (Violin) and João Paulo Santos (Piano) really play as an ensemble, and face the highly technical obstacles on both instruments - and in the case of Szymanowski, it cannot be said that the pianist simply accompanies the violinist. Especially in the provocative second movement 'Scherzando', the coordination is exceptional. The composer presents a very different sound (and a more convincing one) in Myths op. 30; and here Szymanowski dares to take big steps towards modernity. Ramifications of enigmatic sounds on the two instruments, great lack of themes and different reasons cause a strange and magical atmosphere, which is picked up by the two artists excellently. In the Nocturne and Tarantella op. 28, a work technically and musically very demanding, the performers are fully up to the demands. Although Szymanowski is a much played composer (mostly his piano and orchestral works), his chamber music pieces still lead a shadowy existence. This may be understandable because the quality of the pieces swings, but are worthy to be heard – and with such excellent interpretation as this one by Monteiro and Santos - no doubt”.

 

Fanfare Magazine, Maria Nockin

“Bruno Monteiro and pianist João Paulo Santos perform with magnificent virtuosity as they show us the many facets of this interesting composer. The sound on this Brilliant Classics recording is crisp and gives each artist equal stature”.

 

Fanfare Magazine, Jerry Dubins

“This new Monteiro/Santos set is the only one, in my knowledge of Szymanowski recordings, to offer both the composer’s six original works and Kochanski’s five contributions. “Ecstatic raptures,” whether quasi-oriental or otherwise, is a good description of these radiant and inspiring performances by Bruno Monteiro and João Santos. For comparison I have only the Ibragimova/Tiberghien Hyperion CD, which does not contain the Kochanski extras. I’d have thought, though, that the Russian-born Ibragimova would have a closer connection to the Russian-born (now Ukraine) Polish Szymanowski than would the Portuguese Bruno Monteiro, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. Technically, the two violinists are a match for each other, but in getting at the essence of Szymanowski’s elusive music, Monteiro has the definite edge. The nuanced phrasing and tonal refinement he brings to these pieces in sympathetic partnership with João Santos illuminate the music from within in a way that, for this listener, has made a deep and lasting impression. Very strongly recommended".

 

Fanfare Magazine, Huntley Dent

“Monteiro and Santos are ideal guides through Szymanowski’s elusive world; they capture the perfume and shadows in his music quite evocatively. Brilliant’s sound is detailed and atmospheric. This is the musical equivalent of hunting for rare orchids in misty rain forests. If that image holds any appeal for you, so will Szymanowski’s violin music”.

 

Jornal de Letras, Maria Augusta Gonçalves

“Bruno Monteiro and João Paulo Santos are at ease in the repertoire. They have performed it live coutless times, have years of ensemble work, in different universes and they share the same vision on Szymanowski´s music – it´s richness, demand and history. With them, the composer´s work prevails. Bruno Monteiro and João Paulo Santos enter now in the exclusive group of the great interperters of his music”.

 

Examiner.com, Stephen Smoliar

“Monteiro’s playing on this new recording is particularly effective in escalating the mood of Opus 30 (Myths) beyond the plane of mere mortals. Highly absorbing CD, making a strong case that this music deserves more attention when violinists are planning their recital programs”.

 

Scherzo Magazine, Santiago Martín Bermúdez

"A beautiful recording. Along with a few short works by Karol Szymanowski that are of importance for themselves (The Dawn, Wild Dance) or as derived from others (the ballet dance Harnasie, Roxana's Song of King Roger), this double CD offers important works marking transcendent moments of the itinerary of Szymanowski: Myths op. 30, especially, of 1915, at the apex of the first stage of maturity of the composer; Or the 1904 Sonata, a youthful work with a very clear statement, a time when every artist takes advantage of outside influences (it is not that we see Brahms there, it is simply that the young Karol knows very well the music of the last years of the century). We could add two works of great encouragement of similar ambition, the adaptation of the Paganini Caprices or the two movements of Nocturno and Tarantella. Several works included in this program are outside the numbered catalog of the great Polish composer. Two excellent Portuguese soloists, the violinist Bruno Monteiro and the pianist João Paulo Santos give a beautiful recital of sensual music, only sometimes dramatic, from the scores to full achievements like that of Myths op. 30. Virtuosity, but above all understanding the sequences of phrases and even cells that motivate suggestions, rather than affirmations. Some readings at times "French", sometimes classicist, always with measured, elegant, but undeniable intensities not only when (say) agitation is imposed, but at the end of the program itself, that Neapolitan Tarantella of more or less 1915, brilliant couple of the Nocturno, who evokes Spanish stylizations in the style of Albéniz and other contemporaries around here. In short, a double CD of high level in works and interpreters, at one of those incredible prices of the seal Brilliant".

 

Österreichische Musikzeitschrift, Wien, Ernst Blach

"The recording of the complete works for violin and piano by Szymanowski opens up fascinating new ideas about his extensive artistic work. For example, in the Chant de Roxane, a transcription of his opera, King Roger, an oriental atmosphere is evoked, in the dance of Harnasie, an adaptation of the homonymous ballet by the violinist Pavel Kochanski, traditional sounds of pastoral music, which requires the violinist to play in extreme moods.
Also in other works of this CD, the technical sophistication of the virtuoso violinist Bruno Monteiro comes into play, for example, in the Sonata in D minor or in the adaptation of Paganini Caprices with modern harmonies.
The influence of Ravel and Debussy can be heard in the Myths with their tremolos, pizicatos, harmonics, trinados, double stops and the use of pentatonic scales.
Szymanowski is a musical traveler from Southern Europe and Africa at Nocturne and Tarantella.
The rhythms of Flamenco and Habanera make the violin become a guitar, and some of the non-European expressions are reminiscent of the Middle East.
A successful accomplishment, excellent performance, although not all of Szymanowski's works have the same quality and the dramatic momentum for the violin in a recording which sometimes is too much savored ".

 

Crescendo.de, Jens F. Laurson

“… Bruno Monteiro and João Paulo Santos also score points in their recently recorded version of these works (Szymanowski – Complete Music for Violin and Piano) with explosive articulation and resonant sound in the Sonata, written in German late-Romantic style”.

 

Musicalifeiten, Jan de Kruijff

"The genius of Karol Szymanowski (1882-1937) may be elusive, but it is also very broad. Wagner was an early influence, but from his teenage years Chopin, Scriabin, R. Strauss and Reger also played a part in his development.

Traveling through Italy and North Africa gave him a great appreciation for the classics and Arab culture. His meeting with Debussy, Ravel and Stravinsky in Paris just before W.W.I broke out was a crucial musical experience. Many of those influences crystallized when Szymanowski became more mature.

His most famous work for violin and piano, Mythes, composed in 1915 and published in 1921, was the first of three works that possess his personal style.

Szymanovsky felt strongly that he had created a new style for violin compositions. Each of the three parts also reflects the fascination of the composer for classical mythology.

One can not be mistaken: all this music first sets formidable technical requirements for both performers, while the interpretations also require the greatest possible refinement. Although the emphasis is on the instrumental coloring, in many of these works the musicians must also pay attention to the lyrical and dramatic contente.

The two Portuguese artists performing here seem ideally created for this repertoire of which they give excellent interpretations. Along the way they conjure up beautiful colors and differentiate nicely between the styles.
The fact that the recording was made at Igreja da Cartuxa in Caxias gives a somewhat generous reverberation, but rather like a sound that is too direct.

In 2008, Anna Ibragimoa and Cédric Tiberghien also made a so-called 'complete' p [name of the violin / piano works (Hyperion CDA 7703), but left the opus-less tracks aside and then of course there is the selection of Rosanne Philippens and Julien Quentin (Channel Classics). CCS SA 36715), but for the total Brilliant Classics is unique and fortunately so successful".

 

Revista Ritmo, Gonzalo Pérez Chamorro

Editor´s Choise/Top 10 CD´s of February 2018

*****
“Bruno Monteiro continues to travel to the back roads of the violin chamber repertoire between centuries. After his Erwin Schulhoff CD, this time he stops in Karol Szymanowski, the brilliant Polish composer unclassifiable, who would virtually share seat with Janácek, Scriabin, Martinu or Enescu, among others, as this period favored the flowering of free spirits against the current. This recording shows all his work for violin and piano, which includes small pieces such as Roxana of King Roger's aria (fundamental opera of the 20th century), a dance drawn from the Harnasie ballet or the Dance Sauvage, among others, with works of greater substance such as the early Sonata Op. 9 (1904), of Franckian resonances, and, especially, Mythes Op. 30 (1915), one of his masterpieces, a "Greek" triptych in which he describes the myths with a new writing technique for the violin. The profund reading of the Portuguese violinist, with his usual pianist Joao Paulo Santos, explains and clarifies very well the pentatonism, the almost dodecaphonic harmony or the intervals in the style of Alois Hába. There was already a great recording of this music by Ibragimova and Tiberghien (Hyperion), which is added by this one on equal intentions to consolidate, for music, interpretation and the need to know better the great Szymanowski”.

 

Forbes, Jens F. Laurson

Classical CD Of The Week: Szymanowski's Works For Violin And Piano

"Karol Szymanowski (1882 – 1937) is, Chopin apart, the Polish national composer. En route he is also one of the great, usually underrated, often overlooked composers of the 20th Century: a composer who has everything to offer from post-Brahmsian romanticism to exotic Scriabinesque ecstasy to Bartók-like rhythmic tenacity. If we hear any of his works in concert, it’s most likely one of the fabulous violin concertos (or both, as on this occasion with Frank Peter Zimmermann and the BRSO) or perhaps one of the symphonies.

Szymanowski’s works for violin and piano are an excellent way to delve into the composers’ less familiar chamber repertoire and they are perfectly suitable to get better acquainted with the heterogeneous styles of the composer. Two fine recordings that collect this music have recently popped up: One by Marie Radauer-Plank (violin) and Henrike Brüggen (piano) on the fine local German Genuin label and another by Bruno Monteiro (violin) and João Paulo Santos (piano) on the cheap international Dutch Brilliant label (the one that was the first to successfully merge the super-budget approach with quality).

The German release contains Violin Sonata op.9, Myths op.30, the “Danse paysanne” from the ballet Harnasie, La berceuse d'Aïtacho Enia, op.52, Nocturne & Tarantella op.28, a Nocturnewithout an opus number, and “Roxana's Air” – Pawel Kochanski’s arrangement culled from Szymanowski’s great opera King Roger and fits it all on one CD. The Brilliant release makes claims to the Complete Music for Violin and Piano of Szymanowski’s and includes all the above plus the Romance in D Major op.23, Three Capriccios of Paganini op.40, the Kurpian Song op.58/9 (his own arrangement of an art-song), and two shorter collaborative pieces: L’Aubeand Dans Sauvage, where the piano part is Szymanowski’s and the violin parts Kochanski’s and Leo Ornstein’s (another, even more underrated and neglected composer), respectively.

Both releases are excellent. Bruno Monteiro’s violinism is more direct and explosive; Radauer-Plank‘s more lyrical, with a lighter approach, the notes separated further, the pace over-all more relaxed but not necessarily always slower. If the Duo Brüggen-Plank is more mobile in their approach but always together in lockstep, the Portuguese twosome is more ethereal and Monteiro sort of sliding above Santos’ pianism as if separated by a layer of oil. Where the German violinist’s tone is spritely but sometimes thin or pinched and recorded in a dry acoustic, Monteiro’s is round, bold, and – particularly true for Paulo Santos’ piano – resonant bordering on the wooly. On the latter recording, I prefer the more emphatic, violesque sound of the violin and the softer, velvety pianism. With the Brüggen-Plank Duo I admire the intense and tight finale of the folk-music influenced “Danse paysanne”. The close, sometimes slightly hard, certainly lean sound of the production is a benefit here. Henrike Brüggen plays absolutely marvelously in the Nocturne; as adroit and soothingly as can be; similarly Radauer-Plank displays a beauty and purity in her tone. Bruno Monteiro can only offer his broader, hazier but more mysterious tone as an alternative.

Where the Portuguese approach with their impulsive articulation and the recording’s acoustic score is the early piano sonata, broadly in the late-romantic German style. In the gorgeous Mythes, Three Poems – a de facto impressionist violin sonata with here breathy and elsewhere robust hints of Debussy – both musical teams shine with their relative merits: tawny, rhythmically strict, elegant, dynamically virile, precise and exerting compelling pull on the Genuin recording; indulgent and clad in colorful mist on Brilliant. The difference in the beginning of the third movement – “Dryades et Pan” – is telling: Radauer-Plank comes in and out like a swarm of friendly-curious, super-precise hornets; Monteiro sways casually like a Venetian gondola.

Brilliant is known for skimping on booklets – but not here… if you can make do with English. The notes on Genuine, written by the artists, are absolutely adequate, too, and tri-lingual. If it were a mere matter of quantity, Brilliant’s 2 CD set has 110 minutes of music on offer and Genuin’s single disc 70…

P.S. It should be mentioned that the terrific Alina Ibragimova and Cédric Tiberghien also have recorded the complete works of Szymanowski’s (on Hyperion), which is a self-evidently promising proposition – but I have not heard that recording".