Rob Pennock
September 2016

Hyperion is very fond of unearthing long-forgotten music, much of which is decidedly unmemorable, but just occasionally something comes along that is worth a second listen, such as the Polish composer Ludomir Różycki’s (1883-1953) three movement Piano Quintet of 1913. The work is very firmly rooted in late-romanticism, with rich textures and harmonies that bring to mind Brahms, Reger, Franck and the sadly neglected Vaughan Williams Piano Quintet. The opening theme seethes with rhythmic energy, the second sings wistfully with a bass-line that will later become luxuriously imposing, there is no-sense of note-spinning in the development (often a problem with lesser composers) and the tranquilo ending is most affecting. At the beginning of the long Adagio one is reminded of Bartok (who was born two years earlier) the profoundly beautiful cello lead main theme appears to be derived from the first’s second theme, there is a similarly emotionally charged central section, the reprise is magical, the codetta decidedly sombre. The Allegro giocoso finale is initially clearly influenced by the dance; once again the thematic material is highly distinctive, the colours vibrant, the coda wonderfully grandiose.

The performance is decidedly romantic, without a score it is difficult to tell if all the tempo changes are marked, but everything coheres, there is natural rubato, when needed power, propulsion, exceptional sweep and the ability to let the music sing.