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Barely a month after completing the final instalment of his tremendous Brahms series on BIS (reviewed in IP Jan/Feb), Jonathan Plowright was at Polish Radio in Warsaw setting down this marvellous programme of Paderewski and Stojowski. Plowright’s track record in Polish repertoire is impressive, with recordings of Chopin, Paderewski, Różycki, Zarebski, Żeleński and others. Plowright has long wanted to record these works, but presumably they fell outside Hyperion’s ‘Romantic Piano Concertos’ series, because Stojowski’s work (previously unrecorded) is, obviously, not a concerto; and Piers Lane covered Paderewski’s concerto in the very first instalment of the series back in 1990.

Plowright here renews his partnership with Lukasz Borowicz and they make a good case for Stojowski’s engaging Symphonic Rhapsody (1898-1900, known alternatively as ‘Polish Fantasy’). Its initially soulful demeanour, enlivened by some delightful playing by the cor anglais, leads on to more spirited writing, thrown off by soloist and the excellent Polish Sinfonia Iuventus Orchestra with élan.

The main event here, however, is undeniably Paderewski’s Concerto (1882-8), of which this is the 10th version currently available, though several predecessors (Felicja Blumenthal, Earl Wild, Kevin Kenner) can be found in multiple issues. Plowright is measured in the opening Allegro, producing a dynamic, well-focused account, avoiding the pell-mell rush of Wild and Barère. In his hands, the central Romanza, is lovely indeed while the finale balances perfectly virtuosic display and musical gravitas. Beautifully recorded, this is as fine an account as one could wish for; choice may likely depend on couplings, so the ‘encore’ of the gorgeous Nocturne is a real bonus. Recommended.

GUY RICKARDS Read the full review on Agora Classica


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