Chang Tou Liang
Singapore Straits Times
March 2014

The Piano Quintet in G Minor by Polish composer Juliusz Zarębski (1854-1885) has gained a measure of popularity thanks to two recent recordings by Argentine-born virtuoso Martha Argerich.

This recognition outside of Poland is belated for this one-time favourite student of Franz Liszt, who died from tuberculosis shortly after completing the work, which was published only in 1931.

The music, though unabashedly Romantic, is harmonically adventurous, not least in the piquant Scherzo and Finale, which share the same thematic material but go down totally different paths.

The Piano Quartet in C Minor by compatriot Władysław Żeleński (1837-1921) is more conventional, stemming from its influences by Schumann and Brahms. However, a melancholy typical of Slavic character pervades, and the memorable opening theme could easily have come from the young Rachmaninov.

British pianist and specialist in Polish music Jonathan Plowright is well supported by the Szymanowski Quartet from Poland, and the performances of both works are exemplary for their passion and emotional sweep