Sunday 22 April 2012

Dobrzyński ~ Chopin’s student friend

Following on from my recent Chopin blog and my blog about Chopin’s friend Kalkbrenner, I have since heard a very attractive piano concerto by Dobrzyński, a fellow student of Chopin with Józef Elsner at the Warsaw Conservatory.


This new release comes on the NIFC label (The Fryderyk Chopin Institute) and features pianist Howard Shelley who also directs the Sinfonia Varsovia.

Unlike Chopin, Ignacy Feliks Dobrzyński (1807-1867) spent most of his life in Warsaw. As well as this piano concerto, he wrote symphonies, choral music, chamber music, songs, piano music and an opera.

Dobrzyński’s Piano concerto in A flat major, Op. 2 [1824], whilst owing something to Hummel and Chopin, is a fine work in its own right. The invention never flags from the sparkling opening Allegro brillante with a long orchestral introduction, through the beautiful slow middle movement, Adagio, to the scintillating final Rondo, Vivace ma non troppo movement.

There is much of the delicacy of Chopin in this work but also bravura writing that Howard Shelley triumphs in. This is a live performance but, other than applause at the end, there is little evidence of the audience’s presence.

The other work on this CD is the Piano Concerto in C major, Op. 14 [1801] by      Franciszek Lessel (1780-1838) a Polish composer of Czech decent who studied with Haydn. I have not had the opportunity of hearing this work but all reports seem to describe it as a much slighter piece, but interesting nonetheless.

This is certainly a disc to consider not only for those exploring the byways of romantic piano concertos but for those who simply want to enjoy an exquisite piece of music.

The BBC Radio 3 CD Review ‘Disc of the Week’ broadcast of the Dobrzyński Piano concerto is currently available on BBC iPlayer.

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