Favorite Icon, Full size
Album Review: Myth and Romance
Marta Szlubowska and Svetlana Belsky
Cover image of the album Myth and Romance by Marta Szlubowska and Svetlana Belsky
Myth and Romance
Marta Szlubowska and Svetlana Belsky
2019 / Sheridan Music Studio
57 minutes
Review by Kathy Parsons
Myth and Romance is an eclectic collection of works for violin and piano by Polish composers. Performed by violinist Marta Szlubowska and pianist Svetlana Belsky, most of the nine tracks are duets - two are solo piano and one is solo violin. The five composers whose music is included on the album are Karol Szymanowski (1882-1937), Frederic Chopin (1810-1849), Grazyna Bacewicz (1909-1969), Marta Ptaszynska (b. 1943), and Ignacy Jan Paderewski (1860-1941). Both artists are obviously masters of their respective instruments and began their collaboration in 2017 when they discovered their shared love for turn-of-the-20th-century repertoire.

Polish violinist Marta Szlubowska is a sought-after soloist, chamber musician, teacher and concertmaster. She has performed in concert in more than 15 countries throughout Europe and The Americas. She has been the concertmaster of the Mississippi Symphony Orchestra in Jackson, MS since 2004. She studied and received degrees from the Peabody Institute and earned her Master’s Degree in Violin Performance from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

Svetlana Belsky is an in-demand recitalist and chamber pianist who has performed throughout the world and has received awards in international piano competitions. She is noted for her rapport with her audiences, stylistic versatility and for her advocacy of new American music. She received her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from Peabody Conservatory and her Doctorate in Performance at the Manhattan School of Music. She is the Coordinator of Piano Studies at the University of Chicago.

Myth and Romance begins with the three-movement “Mythes, Op. 30” by Karol Szymanowski. Composed in 1921, the three parts are “La Fontaine d’Arethuse,” a dark, turbulent and mysterious piece that tells a vivid and dramatic story; the poignant and melancholy “Narcisse;” and “Dryades et Pan,” which is bright and spritely with darker moments. All three are virtuosic works that allow both artists to demonstrate their mastery of their instruments. Chopin’s posthumous “Nocturne in C# Minor” has been a personal favorite for many years and it’s a pleasure to hear it performed so elegantly and sensitively by Dr. Belsky. The solo violin “Kaprys Polski (Polish Caprice)” by Grazyna Bacewiscz begins slowly, almost mournfully, and builds momentum as it unfolds, becoming almost frenzied near the end. “Hommage a I.J. Paderewski” by Marta Ptaszynska is the second piano solo and was composed in 1992. Very dark and often discordant, it serves as an interesting lead-in to Paderewski’s Violin Sonata, Op. 13. Composed when Paderewski was 22, the Sonata is my favorite work on the album. The first movement, “Allegro con fantasia,” is beautifully lyrical and played with heartfelt emotion by both artists. The second movement, “Intermezzo. Andantino,” is expressed with tenderness and grace. The Finale, “Allegro molto quasi presto,” is a real showpiece with passages that are bold and dramatic and others that are much quieter and more subtle - a great way to end this excellent album! Brava to both Marta Szlubowska and Svetlana Belsky for their brilliant performances!

Myth and Romance is available from Amazon, iTunes and CD Baby as well as many streaming sites.
June 4, 2019
This review has been tagged as:
ClassicalKathy's Picks