On May 19th, 2019, violinist Magdalena Filipczak and pianist Jessica Xylina Osborne gave a recital at the Anthoine Penthouse in New York City. The program was an eclectic collection of 19th to mid-20th century works, with a sizeable Polish component.
Here are the works that were played.
Bacewicz: Polish Caprice for solo violin
This work was written by the Polish composer Grazyna Bacewicz, at one time a student of Nadia Boulanger. You can hear Grazyna herself play it. It is a brief, entertaining piece that opens in a reflective mood. It transitions to a fast dance, replete with challenges for the violinist.
Magdalena’s interest in the music of Benjamin Britten dates back to years she spent in London, U.K. She likened this work to the violinist yawning as he gradually wakes up. Magdalena’s yawn was a muted portamento that repeats and evolves as the work progresses. Later we hear hints of a military trumpet. The work closes with sudden dissonance and a flourish. The reason for this was unclear to me. Did the violinist fall out of bed?
Wienawski: Polonaise in D major, Op. 4
Available on YouTube as Wieniawski Polonaise in D Major.
Previn: Song from Tango, Song and Dance
Piazzola: Bordel from The History of Tango
I like Piazzola, but in this work the composer had pianist Jessica tapping rhythmically on the piano, which broke the spell.
Ravel: Blues (Violin Sonata No. 2, second movement)
This work was difficult to absorb on first hearing. There are echoes of Ravel’s Left Hand Piano Concerto mid-way through, but I did not feel that Blues was of comparable stature.
Szymanowski: Peasant Dance from Harnasie
Available on YouTube as Szymanowski Danse Paysanne from Harnasie (Filipczak)
Karlowicz: Selected songs, Op. 1
Ms. Filipczak is also a singer! She sang two short songs by Mieczyslaw Karlowicz, a composer whose short life crossed from the 19th to the 20th century. This delightful romantic fare was given life by Ms. Filipczak’s luxurious vibrato and closed on a perfect high note.
Debussy: Violin Sonata
This esoteric violin sonata was the composer’s last work. It’s not easy to follow, but Ms. Filipczak played it with conviction. It is available on YouTube as Claude Debussy Sonate No.3 Live Recording (Esther Abrami).
Wienawski: Fantasia on themes from Gounod’s Faust, Op. 20
This was my favorite work of the evening. At times sounding like a cross between Schubert and Chopin, it is a bright, approachable work. The interplay between Magdalena’s violin and Jessica’s piano was delightful.
The intimate performance space at the Anthoine Penthouse gave the audience a larger-than-life experience. In a modest-sized room, a violin has power and resonance that amplifies the emotional texture of a work.
My lasting impression of Ms. Filipczak’s performance is one of clarity, consistency and beauty. I enjoyed almost everything that she played, and was impressed by what seemed to be effortless coordination between violin and piano.
On Wednesday, May 5th 2019 at 7:30 pm at The Kosciuszko Foundation in New York, you can see Magdalena and Jessica play this program. See Inspired by Song and Dance – A recital by Magdalena Filipczak, violin and Jessica Xylina Osborne, piano.