Hyperion Records

Fantasie, Op 38
Most of Stojowski’s solo piano compositions are classified as piano miniatures. The Fantasie, Op 38 and his Variations and Fugue are among his few major works for solo piano. The title Fantasie is misleading in that one might expect a free fantasy-like piece, improvisatory in style. Instead the composer shows his mettle by providing the listener with a solidly constructed musical form rich in melodic and rhythmic interest, reminiscent at times of Chopin’s Fantasy in F minor, Op 49.

The composition is divided into two main parts. The first (Sostenuto, molto cantabile e poco rubato), in quasi sonata-allegro form, is characterized by a seemingly simple melody which contains a key rhythmic motif repeated throughout the work.

The second section is in ABA form. It is immediately recognizable not only by a change of tempo (to Allegro energico) and key (to F minor), but also by the change from triple to quadruple metre and, above all, by a new heroic, rhythmically driving four-bar theme.

Following the exposition of this theme, Stojowski cleverly restates all of the thematic material of both sections.

When the theme above returns, the composer brilliantly transforms it into the subject of a three-voice fugue forming the middle section (B). The fugue’s exposition ends with a short transition based on the dotted rhythm found at the end of the subject. The development begins with the subject heard in the tenor range and then one octave lower in the bass register. A six-bar chromatic episode follows and once more the subject is heard, but this time two and three octaves higher. In the recapitulation, instead of returning – as might be expected – to the original key of the fugue’s exposition, the composer opts for the key of F minor. Thus, he enables the fugue’s coda to become the beginning of the third section (A1).

Having done this, Stojowski modulates to F major and presents the appassionato theme of the first section. As the work draws to a close, the composer masterfully combines a simultaneous restatement of the opening themes of both the first and second sections of the Fantasie. He briefly revisits the work’s opening tonality, after which he returns to F major. The Fantasie quietly ends with thematic material from the first section, underlined by a subtle reminder of the second section’s opening motif in the bass.

The Fantasie was published in 1912 by G Schirmer in New York and Heugel in Paris. It is dedicated to the pianist-composer Moritz Moszkowski.

from notes by Joseph A Herter © 2004

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