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Aspirations, Op 39

'Stojowski: Piano Music' (CDA67437)
Stojowski: Piano Music
Buy by post £10.50 CDA67437 
No 1: L'aspiration vers l'azur: Prélude
No 3: L'aspiration vers le caprice: Intermède
No 4: L'aspiration vers l'amour: Romance
No 5: L'aspiration vers la joie: Rhapsodie

Aspirations, Op 39
Aspirations, Op 39 bears witness to Stojowski’s studies in France. It sees him standing at the Impressionistic threshold, with one foot inside its door while the other remains firmly planted in post-Romanticism. At times the composer abandons the functional harmony of Romantic idioms and approaches the colourful harmonic palette of Debussy. The French titles of the five movements themselves express the intangible and atmospheric impressions the composer wished to create. As if the composer feared that one might interpret his impressions as vague or ambiguous, he adds the names of typically Romantic forms in parentheses.

Stojowski’s fascination with musical vibrations of colour and light can be clearly seen in the first piece, L’aspiration vers l’azur (Prélude). The title itself betrays this, and instead of a dedication there is a reference to Goethe’s poem Mehr Licht. The piece is in duple metre and in the key of D flat major; the tempo marking is Andante non troppo, ma molto cantabile.

L’aspiration vers le caprice (Intermède) is in 5/4 metre and in the key of D minor; the tempo marking is Allegretto capriccioso. The descending tritone, which was used forebodingly in the second piece of this set, L’aspiration vers la tombe (Elégie) – not included in the present recording – now forms a whimsical motif for this movement and is quoted throughout the piece. The application of parallel major thirds, like the melodic use of the tritone, is one of many Impressionistic techniques used by Stojowski.

The fourth movement, L’aspiration vers l’amour (Romance), in 6/8 metre and in D flat major, is thoroughly Romantic in style. In this Andante appassionato Stojowski abandons his pretensions of Impressionistic style and reveals himself as a conservative in matters of the heart. Impassioned indeed!

The last piece of the set, L’aspiration vers la joie (Rhapsodie) uses triple metre for its Allegro molto quasi presto sections and duple metre for the sections marked Vivace. Formally in the key of D major, the work nonetheless begins with a daring, almost atonal melody ending on the tonic D in the fifth bar. This theme returns four times, creating a quasi rondo form. The alternating Vivace sections are marked by the use of semiquaver triplets, suspiciously similar to figures used in Debussy’s second Arabesque in G major (1888–1891). As in Debussy’s work, this motif serves to create an atmosphere of joyous celebration.

Aspirations was first published in 1914 by Heugel in Paris. The first piece has no dedication, but the others are dedicated to the following: 2. Donald Johnson; 3. Miss Elenore Altman; 4. Mrs Ch. A Scudder; and 5. Ernest Schelling.

from notes by Joseph A Herter © 2004

Track-specific metadata
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Details for CDA67437 track 9
No 3: L'aspiration vers le caprice: Intermède
Recording date
22 October 2003
Recording venue
Henry Wood Hall, London, United Kingdom
Recording producer
Jeremy Hayes
Recording engineer
Tony Faulkner
Hyperion usage
  1. Stojowski: Piano Music (CDA67437)
    Disc 1 Track 9
    Release date: July 2004
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