Sunday, August 10, 2014

Witold Małcużyński – Tchaikovsky – Concerto B-flat Minor op. 23


   One of best pianists in 20th century Poland was Witold Małcużyński (Malcuzynski, Malcuzynsky, Malcuzinsky), pianist whose career was temporarily suspended by 2nd world war, but flourished in 50’s, giving him master position in Poland and internationally recognized authority in romantic pianism. He was famous as interpreter of Fryderyk Chopin’s music and great performer of romantic concertos by Liszt, Brahms, Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninov. He has recording contract with Columbia Records but his recordings were also published by EMI and Angel Records. Before the war he was supported by Ignacy Jan Paderewski. Later as he was recognized worldwide, Małcużyński was able to continue some activities also on diplomatic field. He had contribution in returning to Wawel Castle in Kraków collection of works of art saving from the war in Canada. 
   He was born August 10th 1914 in Koziczyn (now Kazokine near Švenčionys – Lithuania) and since the age of 5 he was learning piano. As 15 years old he was accepted into Warsaw Conservatory where he studied in classes of Jerzy Lefeld and then Józef Turczyński. He graduated with honors in 1936 and the same time became laureate of fifth prize in International Music Competitions in Vienna. Next year he won third prize in Third International Chopin Piano Competition in Warsaw. In 1938 he moved to Paris for invitation to study in Paris with Marguerite Long and Isidor Philipp. In September 1939 after Germany attacked Poland, he joined the army and thank to Ignacy Jan Paderewski was incorporated as a member of artistic corps. After Germans captured Paris, he fleed to Portugal, and in October 1940 he moved to Argentina. Two years later he moved to USA and after the war he back to Europe and settled in Switzerland.  

Witold Małcużyński - Tchaikovsky - Concerto B-flat Minor (1961)

   He was one of these intellectuals who delayed their comeback to Poland for political reasons. As one of most successful Polish artists, after his return to Poland in 1958 Witold Małcużyński was celebrated as a national hero. He was frequently performing and recording artist, unquestioned authority in artistic style, member of jury in Long-Thibaud-Crespin Competition in Paris (1946, 1955, 1960, 1965, 1977), Queen Elisabeth Music Competition in Brussels (1960), Magda Tagliaferro Competition in Paris (1960) and International Chopin Piano Competition in Warsaw (1960, 1965, 1975). He was performing with Paul Kletzky, Serge Koussevitzky, Pierre Monteaux, Fritz Reiner, Artur Rodziński, George Szell and giving recitals of Polish music. In 1961 Witold Małcużyński recorded two great romantic piano concertos – Concerto No. 1 B-flat Minor by Pyotr Tchaikovsky and Concerto No. 3 D-Minor by Sergei Rachmaninov.
   Performance of Tchaikovsky's Concerto B-flat Minor op. 23 with Polish National Philharmonic Orchestra, the orchestra Małcużyński made debut with, were symbolic return to his beginnings. Pianist is main artist of this performance. Orchestra is following him with necessary precision, which is part of great contribution of conductor Witold Rowicki. The sound of orchestra is even but sometimes little too flat, just opposite to the sound of the piano exploding with colors and emotions. Such difference was probably the effect of sound producer decisions. Maybe orchestral sound was suppressed to enhance the effect of the piano. Recording with Polish National Philharmonic Orchestra under direction by Witold Rowicki was great achievement of artists and one of mandatory item in every Polish records collection. This performance was recognized as perfect interpretation and reprinted many times in Poland and other countries. Four stars for great performance.

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