The Violin Sonata in D minor Op 9 (1904) was first performed in Warsaw during 1909 by Rubinstein and the violinist Pawel Kochanski (1887–1934), another longstanding friend of the composer. It is a conventionally structured work in three movements. The influence of Scriabin seems to arise more from such works as his densely textured Piano Sonata No 3 than from his delicately ornamental early Preludes and Impromptus. A good deal of Szymanowski’s piano-writing here is strenuously chordal, not always allowing the music the momentum to which it appears to aspire. However, there are already many moments of striking originality along the lines identified by Rubinstein, and the slow movement (featuring contrast between bowed and pizzicato—or plucked—playing styles) serves as an effective lyrical foil to the more turbulent rhetoric of the opening one. The finale is a headlong tarantella which finds some space for imitative counterpoint. Despite a somewhat routine effectiveness, especially in its peroration, the work as a whole is of much more than merely documentary interest. In the first movement particularly, the wisdom of hindsight allows us to hear in certain idiosyncratic melodic intervals the seed of later works, waiting to be awakened fully by the experience of Sicily and Algiers a few years on.
from notes by Francis Pott © 2009