Tansman: Selected concert guitar works - Zawierucha

Tansman: Selected concert guitar works - Zawierucha

Ars Produktion  ARS 38 320

Stereo/Multichannel Hybrid

Classical - Instrumental

Tansman: Mazurka, Suite in modo polonico, Hommage à Chopin, Pièce en forme de passacaille, Variations sur un thème de Scriabine, Cavatine & danza pomposa

Tomasz Zawierucha (guitar)

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Reviews (1)

Review by Mark Werlin - May 16, 2021

The standard concert repertoire for performing guitarists had, until recent decades, been drawn primarily from 20th-century Spanish and Latin American composers, and from adaptations of baroque and early classical works for lute. Judging by the growing CD catalogue of new and rediscovered music for guitar, opportunities have expanded for performers to introduce lesser-known works to guitar enthusiasts and the wider classical music audience.

Alexandre Tansman’s body of work for solo guitar, the greater part of which was commissioned by his friend Andrés Segovia, now appears in the recordings and concert repertoire of many classical guitarists. In these multifaceted compositions, Tansman preserves the tradition of Polish dance forms and explores the innovative harmonic language of his countryman, Frédéric Chopin.

The Polish Jewish composer Alexandre Tansman was born in Łódź in 1897. Most of his life was based in Paris, where he relocated in 1919 to pursue advanced musical studies, and where he returned in 1946 after sojourning in the U.S. during the Occupation. He retained a lifelong interest in Polish musical forms, and especially in the piano works of Chopin. The relative neglect of Tansman after decades of successful performances and prolific compositional output can be attributed to the changes in critical taste that devalued his neo-classicist style; his numerous ballets, vocal works, symphonies and piano compositions had been relegated to footnotes of European musical history. Fortunately, that is changing, as more of his works are being recorded, including a series of SACDs on Chandos of his symphonies conducted by Oleg Caetani.

The present recording of Tansman’s guitar pieces is noteworthy not only for guitarist Tomasz Zawierucha’s illuminating performances and producer Manfred Schumacher’s superb audio recording, but for its authenticity to the composer’s intentions. To prepare for the project, Zawierucha obtained Tansman’s original scores from the composer’s daughter. The results of diligent study are evident in the elegance, subtlety, and emotional depth of these performances.

Having recently compared and discussed new SACDs of solo and ensemble guitar music with a friend who plays and teaches the instrument, I paid close attention to the ways Zawierucha overcomes the challenges that confront all classical guitarists: how to project dynamics without exaggeration; how to shade individual notes with expressive character. The music of Tansman has a gentler sensibility than the bravura, flamenco-inspired compositions of Rodrigo. The dance forms beloved of Chopin and Tansman are skillfully rendered through Zawierucha’s unhurried tempos, subtle use of rubato, and cantabile phrasing; these performances are imbued with graceful and lyrical vitality.

The recording, produced by Annette Schumacher and engineered by Manfred Schumacher in September 2020 at Immanuelskirche, a former church converted to a cultural center in Wuppertal, Germany, is spacious and crystalline, and Tomasz Zawierucha’s guitar from the workshop of Karl-Heinz Römmich projects warmth and vivid presence. Multichannel listeners will certainly enjoy hearing the church acoustics in 5.0.

As an introduction to classical guitar music for those who are only familiar with the standard repertoire, and for all aficionados of guitar performance, this recording is unreservedly recommended.

Copyright © 2021 Mark Werlin and


Sonics (Stereo):

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Comments (2)

Comment by Adrian Quanjer - May 16, 2021 (1 of 2)

Great review Mark. These people (composer and player) deserve more widespread recognition. And, having lived in Poland for a couple of years, I was pleased to see your having spelled Łódź correctly.

Comment by Mark Werlin - May 17, 2021 (2 of 2)

Thanks, Adrian. Correct spelling of Łódź courtesy of the informative album liner notes and the magic of cut and paste!