The twentieth instalment of their Romantic Violin Concerto series, … makes a very persuasive case for the G minor Concerto of the Polish composer Zygmunt Stojowski, premiered in Paris in 1899 and dedicated to his teacher and muse Władysław Górski.
Stojowski’s compatriot Bartłomiej Nizioł (who’s previously done sterling work exploring lesser-known Polish repertoire on the Dux label) performs it with palpable affection and a lightness and sweetness of tone tempered with moments of astringency that prevent everything from becoming too saccharine. The declamatory G minor flourishes of the opening perhaps owe a little to Max Bruch’s evergreen Concerto in the same key, whilst there are whispers of Tchaikovsky in the lush D major slow movement and the alla polacca finale; to paraphrase the old adage, if you like these two warhorses then you’ll find plenty to enjoy here.
Wieniawski’s dazzling Fantasy on Themes from Gounod’s Faust, which sparkles like the jewels which so enchant the opera’s heroine, is perhaps more of a known quantity. Whilst it hasn’t quite achieved the popularity of Sarasate’s Carmen Fantasy in the ‘virtuosic operatic pot pourris for violin and orchestra’ category, it’s popped up on a number of previous collections of encores and showpieces and it’s easy to see why—Wieniawski does some gorgeous things with the love-scene music, and Méphistophélès’ ‘Hymn to the Golden Calf’ bristles with a demonic energy that foreshadows Saint-Saëns’s Danse Macabre, composed nearly a decade later. Devil’s trills indeed.