Hyperion Records

Twenty Mazurkas, Op 50
composer
1924/5

Recordings
'Szymanowski: The Complete Mazurkas' (CDA67399)
Szymanowski: The Complete Mazurkas
Buy by post £5.25 CDA67399  Please, someone, buy me …   Studio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available
Details
No 01: Sostenuto – Molto rubato
Track 1 on CDA67399 [2'13] Please, someone, buy me …
No 02: Allegramente – Poco vivace
Track 2 on CDA67399 [2'16] Please, someone, buy me …
No 03: Moderato
Track 3 on CDA67399 [2'39] Please, someone, buy me …
No 04: Allegramente, risoluto
Track 4 on CDA67399 [2'32] Please, someone, buy me …
No 05: Moderato
Track 5 on CDA67399 [2'32] Please, someone, buy me …
No 06: Vivace
Track 6 on CDA67399 [1'56] Please, someone, buy me …
No 07: Poco vivace
Track 7 on CDA67399 [2'04] Please, someone, buy me …
No 08: Moderato
Track 8 on CDA67399 [2'43] Please, someone, buy me …
No 09: Tempo moderato
Track 9 on CDA67399 [3'18] Please, someone, buy me …
No 10: Allegramente – Vivace – Con brio
Track 10 on CDA67399 [2'43] Please, someone, buy me …
No 11: Allegretto
Track 11 on CDA67399 [1'26] Please, someone, buy me …
No 12: Allegro moderato
Track 12 on CDA67399 [3'38] Please, someone, buy me …
No 13: Moderato
Track 13 on CDA67399 [3'25] Please, someone, buy me …
No 14: Animato
Track 14 on CDA67399 [1'51] Please, someone, buy me …
No 15: Allegretto dolce
Track 15 on CDA67399 [2'46] Please, someone, buy me …
No 16: Allegramente – Vigoroso
Track 16 on CDA67399 [3'17] Please, someone, buy me …
No 17: Moderato
Track 17 on CDA67399 [2'44] Please, someone, buy me …
No 18: Vivace – Agitato
Track 18 on CDA67399 [2'58] Please, someone, buy me …
No 19: Poco vivace – Animato e grazioso
Track 19 on CDA67399 [1'26] Please, someone, buy me …
No 20: Allegramente – Con brio
Track 20 on CDA67399 [2'49] Please, someone, buy me …

Twenty Mazurkas, Op 50
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The 20 Mazurkas, Op 50 (they were published in five sets between 1926 and 1931, each with four mazurkas apiece), were begun in parallel with Szymanowski’s orchestration of his magnum opus, the opera King Roger, in the first half of 1924. Sixteen of them were ready by the end of the year, with the final four following by the spring of 1925. He used the Op 50 Mazurkas as a drawing board, an experimental template to explore his lechitic keyboard style: form, tonality, rhythm—all are exploited in the search for a new music language which would fuse the characteristic features of highland music with Szymanowski’s mature idiom. He was working with the grain of his natural mode of writing, since whole-tone and tritonal intervals were already part of it. (His approach is set in context, and documented in detail, in Alistair Wightman’s authoritative Karol Szymanowski: His Life and Works, Ashgate, Aldershot, 1999.)

His first task was to reconcile conflicting rhythms—since the mazurka is in triple time, as opposed to the duple of Tatra dances—and did so by employing a drastic rhythmic liberty to obscure the symmetrical phrases of the mazurka, using dotted notes, spreading rhythmic patterns over the barline, avoiding predictable dynamic stress. No 11 uses five-bar phrases, and No 16 has phrases seven bars in length. At the other extreme, No 8 constructs its phrases from single-bar cells.

The larger structures are unpredictable, too. Eight of the Mazurkas (Nos 4, 5, 8, 11, 13, 16, 17 and 19) are in a straightforward ternary form, plus coda. Nos 2, 7, 9 and 12 are rondos. And No 11 is a set of variations.

Szymanowski’s melodic style in the Op 50 Mazurkas is both highly distinctive and infinitely malleable. The sharpened fourths and flattened sevenths typical of Góral music can be found in the ‘Sabala’ motive quoted in Mazurka No 1 and they persist throughout the set. Occasionally (as in No 2) Szymanowski writes pentatonic figures that allude to the folk-music of central Poland; No 12 uses a shape found in the Mazowsze plain around Warsaw. He can vary scales, as in No 5. And No 17 exhibits a typical Szymanowskian practice of answering a rising melodic shape with a falling one. Decoration is another persistent feature, with mordents suggesting the improvisatory approach of the folk-musician.

Another prominent folk-element is the use of a drone fifth, suggesting the dudy, or bagpipes, of the Góral musicians. Szymanowski deploys it imaginatively, lightly in Nos 1 and 11, as a martellato single note in Nos 12 and 18, and with a second fifth drone, a ninth higher than the first, in Nos 4 and 10. He can present two separate melodic strands in different keys or tonal areas: No 3 throws C sharp major/minor and A minor against each other, and No 20 does the same with C major and D major. Sometimes he avoids key areas altogether: the whole-tone No 9 settles on E flat only in its final moments, and the highly chromatic No 19 does not make even that reluctant compromise.

from notes by Martin Anderson © 2003

Track-specific metadata
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Details for CDA67399 track 16
Allegramente – Vigoroso
Artists
ISRC
GB-AJY-03-39916
Duration
3'17
Recording date
29 August 2002
Recording venue
Henry Wood Hall, London, United Kingdom
Recording producer
Andrew Keener
Recording engineer
Simon Eadon
Hyperion usage
  1. Szymanowski: The Complete Mazurkas (CDA67399)
    Disc 1 Track 16
    Release date: June 2003
    Please, someone, buy me …
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