Friday 26 September 2014

Katarzyna Musiał shows that she is a pianist to watch with her new recital from Meridian Records

The Polish-Canadian pianist, Katarzyna Musiał was First Prize winner at the 2011 Bradshaw & Buono International Piano Competition (New York) as well as a prize winner at the Krzysztof Penderecki International Competition of Contemporary Chamber Music (Cracow) and the Kay Meek Competition (Vancouver). She has also been a recipient of the Alban Berg Prize for outstanding merit (Vienna) and the Philip Cohen Award for outstanding performance musicianship (Montreal).

Musiał has since performed as a concerto soloist, recitalist and chamber musician throughout North America, Europe and Asia. More recently she made her Carnegie Hall debut and performed at the Vancouver Olympic Games, International Beethoven Festival (Chicago), Tempietto Festival Musicale della Nazioni (Rome) and Music in the Mountains Festival (California). Other major engagements have included a seven-city tour of China in spring 2013, as well as concerto performances with the New York Camerata, Chicago Prometheus Chamber Orchestra, Toronto Sinfonietta, Orchestre Symphonique de L’Isle, McGill Chamber Orchestra and Bielsko Chamber Orchestra, with which she opened the International Bach Festival (Poland).

Her new CD for Meridian Records  has just been released entitled Come Dance with Me, featuring works by such diverse composers as Ginastera, Turina, Messiaen, Ernesto Lecuona, Andre Mathieu, Zygmunt Stojowski, Gershwin, Górecki and Mompou.

CDE 84621

Katarzyna Musiał opens her recital with Alberto Ginastera’s Danzas Argentinas, Op.2. There are some fine sprung rhythms to Danza del Viejo boyero, nicely phrased with lovely dynamics. The sultry Danza de la moza donosa is beautifully paced, well-shaped and phrased, drawing many beauties from this piece. The fiendishly difficult Danza del gaucho matrero shows this pianist’s fine technique as she combines panache, virtuosity and clarity within the complex textures and harmonies. This is a dazzling achievement.

With Joaquin Turina’s Danzas Gitanas, Op.55 she brings so many varied textures and colours to the rhythms of Zambra that adds so much to this dance. Danza de la seducción allows this pianist to display much fine poetry to this atmospheric piece, drawing out many subtleties with a Debussyian sensibility. Again it is Musiał’s sensitivity and poetry that reveals the many lovely aspects of Danza ritual with lovely phrasing and delicacy. Generalife receives a light touch, with rippling, sprung phrases. There is such panache and feely expressive playing in Sacro-monte, with Musiał drawing an enormous palette of colours from her piano.

It is two early works by Olivier Messiaen that Musiał plays next, commencing with his Prélude No.1 ‘La Colombe’  to which Musiał’s fluent touch brings much beauty as well as revealing a certain affinity to Turina, not to mention Debussy. There are some lovely textures here. Prélude No.8 ‘Un reflet dans le vent’ brings beautifully fluent, lucid playing that draws the listener in. Messiaen’s magical harmonies, already pointing the way ahead, are superbly handled.

Ernesto Lecuona’s  (1895-1963) La Comparsa has a distinctive rhythm showing all this pianist’s fine phrasing and rhythmic sensibility before the gentle coda.  Malagueña builds through some scintillating passages for the pianist over the main theme with Musiał’s superb colouring adding so much.

Andre Mathieu (1929-1968) is represented by his Prélude No.5 ‘Prélude romantique where Musiał draws many subtleties from this harmonically free prelude, revealing it to be an extremely attractive piece.

Katarzyna Musiał brings three pieces by her largely forgotten fellow countryman Zygmunt Stojowski 1887-1946), Vision de danse, Op.24 No.4, a terrific little piece that has dance rhythms which are much developed in its short duration, Intermezzo-Mazurka, Op.15 No.2, another attractive piece which this pianist lifts with her light rhythmic touch and Mazurka fantastique, Op.28 No.1 that gives the mazurka a 20th century slant and, in Musiał’s hands, a broad flowing breadth.

George Gershwin’s Prelude No.3 ‘Spanish Prelude’ follows, a piece that fits so well after the Stojowski’s and, indeed, within the whole recital. This pianist brings terrific flair, with fine touch and phrasing.

Henryk Górecki: Four preludes, Op.1 work very well as an integral cycle opening with Molto agitato with its clashing harmonies, bold strident phrases all superbly handled here. The gentle Lento-recitativo has dissonance and occasional dramatic moments before the lively, light footed Allegro scherzando, played with a lovely free touch and a playful little coda. Musiał’s fine phrasing clarifies the complex harmonies and finely coloured textures of the concluding Molto allegro quasi presto.  

Frederic Mompou’s Canción y danza No.1 brings a leisurely pace, revealing a lovely theme with this pianist’s phrasing and rhythmic playing bringing this piece alive. How Musiał shapes and colours the phrases of Canción y danza No.6, gently taking us through this languid, sultry music. When the music gains in tempo in the last section, it is Iberian panache.

To conclude this disc we return to Ginastera, his Suite de Danzas Criollas. Adagietto pianissimo, a lovely, languid piece, is finely judged. The fiery Allegro rustico is full of intoxicating rhythms and in the Allegretto cantabile Musiał provides a lovely unending melodic flow. Calmo e poetico is full of atmosphere with its strange, slow dance rhythm played with such sensitive understanding. The stronger rhythms of the concluding Scherzando-Coda: Presto ed energico provide a brilliant, dynamic end to this fine recital.

There is no doubt that Katarzyna Musiał is a pianist to watch, her choice of composers making a very satisfying recital. The recording overall is very good though there is a slightly hollow sound to the acoustic of the recording venue, the church of St. Edward the Confessor, London, England.

There are excellent booklet notes by the pianist.

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