Toccata Classics revives Tadeusz Majerski

Count Polish composer Tadeusz Majerski among the many artists who ran afoul of authoritarian governments and suffered the consequences. In Pajerski’s case, the authorities were the Polish Communist Party and the price was professional obscurity.

This Toccata Classics release may help restore some of Majerski’s reputation. Majerski embraced the new while incorporating traditional Polish music. That newness (including 12-tone experiments) made him a “formalist,” and ensured his music wouldn’t receive public performances.

The Four Piano Preludes may show the influence of Schoenberg, but there’s nothing formalistic about them. Here 12-tone rows are pressed into the service of musical expression. Instead of academic exercises, these preludes are finely-crafted miniatures of authentic emotion that owe more to Chopin than they do to Schoenberg.

Pianist Michal Drewnowski brings Majerski’s music to life through his energetic performances. And credit him with rescuing it from oblivion.

The stunning Concerto-Poem for Piano and Orchestra only existed in manuscript, and it was primarily through Drewnowski’s efforts that the complete score was finally assembled, performed, and recorded.

And it was well worth the effort. Majerksi manages to encapsulate the gravitas of Brahms and the drama of Richard Strauss into this work — and sound completely original in the process.

Though written and revised in the postwar era, the composition doesn’t sound dated. Rather, it has both immediate appeal and substantial depth that rewards repeated listening.

The other works on the release — the Piano Quintet and the Cello Sonata — are of similar quality, yet of a different character. Majerski’s music rewards the listener on many different levels, as do the performances in this release.

Tadeusz Majerski: Concerto-Poem and Other Works
Michal Drewnowski, piano
Royal Scottish National Orchestra; Emil Tabakov, conductor
New Art Chamber Soloists; Arkadiusz Dobrowolski, cello
Toccata Classics TOCC 0344

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