Friedman: Piano Quintet in C minor; Różyicki: Piano Quintet in C minor, Op 35

Reviewed on Tue 22 Nov, 2016

Ignacy Friedman’s Quintet proves to be a real discovery. Throughout, the strings weave a web of inventive colour and texture around the piano. Superb playing is matched by fine engineering in the atmospheric acoustic of Potton Hall.

Polish piano quintets in C minor are becoming a niche interest for Jonathan Plowright and the Szymanowski Quartet on Hyperion. They follow up their winning account of Juliusz Zarębski’s opus (CDA67905) with an equally intriguing pairing of works by Ludomir Różycki and Ignacy Friedman. Różycki’s three-movement work, dating from 1913, is loosely reminiscent of Brahms. Carrying the air of Romanticism too, the work makes much of its atmospheric ebb and flow, rather than its thematic inventiveness. As it proceeds, a growing sense of personality pervades the piece, with the second movement in particular displaying an increasing reliance upon the cello part to propel the quintet along. Friedman’s Quintet is thematically more engaging and proves to be a real discovery. Given its civilised salon-friendly manner, I am surprised it’s not better known, as the piano part seems written for the semi-professional pianist, even though Friedman himself was a virtuoso. Throughout, the strings weave a web of inventive colour and texture around the piano – try as a starting point the middle movement theme and variations to show just how genial a composer Friedman is. Superb playing is matched by fine engineering in the atmospheric acoustic of Potton Hall. Greatly recommended – you won’t regret it!
–Evan Dickerson