For most, the notion of a Polish cello sonata conjures but one piece: Chopin‘s G minor Sonata, Op. 65. This is a shame because as this album clearly demonstrates, there has been a continuous procession of quality works for cello and piano to come from Polish composers since the time of Chopin.
This CD showcases works written between 1895 and 1982. It opens with the Sonata in A major, Op. 18, of Zygmunt Stojowski; this is a lyrical, neo-Romantic work that was given its premiere by none other than Pablo Casals. The second sonata on the program moves listeners forward to 1930 with Alexandre Tansman‘s composition; another highly expressive and melodious work, this sonata may remind listeners of what Debussy may have written had he composed a second cello sonata. Witold Szalonek‘s association with Nadia Boulanger is evident in his 1958 sonata.
Although certainly more abstract than the two works before it, it still has sections of extremely lyrical playing for both the cello and piano, especially in the emotionally charged Lento second movement. Closing out the album is Jerzy Bauer‘s single-movement sonata that features extended sections for the cello alone and exploration of extended techniques. This CD has even more going for it than just the exceptional quality of its compositions.
The liner notes are superb, giving listeners a walking history through the 60-plus years of music. Cellist Michal Dmochowski does a masterful job transitioning from one style period to the next; his sound is wonderfully clear and intonation is extremely consistent. The only possible down side is that he is sometimes covered up by pianist Graham Jackson in louder sections. Still, this album is absolutely worthwhile.