Two Mazurkas for piano Op. 62 – Karol Szymanowski
Two Mazurkas Op. 62 are Karol Szymanowski's last compositions. The first one dates from 1933, the other one was written the following year and is believed to have been commissioned by Sir Victor Cazalet, the London music lover who hosted Szymanowski's concert in the autumn of 1934.
It was to Sir Victor that Szymanowski dedicated both Mazurkas - and was offered 100 guineas (approx. 105 pounds).Szymanowski's last two works are highly original and different from his Mazurkas Op. 50 both in character and style. This is what the composer wrote about Mazurka No. 1 to Zofia Kochańska:
I have written a very pleasant and cheerful 'Mazurka', and am very fond of playing it. It is a funny thing that indeed I am writing more cheerful music in my old age!!1
Mazurkas Op. 62 make loose references to folk music, Szymanowski treating the mazurka rhythms quite liberally and introducing rhythmical turns going beyond styled folk dances. The former expressiveness and sharp sounds have been replaced with lyricism and subtle, toned down colours.
The whole work was first performed by Szymanowski himself at a private concert held at Sir Victor Cazalet's London house in November 1934. The previous year Szymanowski recorded Mazurka No. 1 for Columbia - this recording has been released on different media several times, also as a CD-ROM Karol Szymanowski. Dokumenty by Polish Radio. Mazurka No. 2 was recorded by Witold Małcużyński for Polskie Nagrania, Muza in 1959. Nowadays both miniatures feature in the repertoires of pianists of such renown as Jan Ekier, Jerzy Godziszewski and Martin Roscoe.
1 Karol Szymanowski. Korespondencja / Letters, vol. IV: 1932-1937, part 2, p. 65, letter to Zofia Kochańska of 22nd February 1933, ed. Teresa Chylińska, Musica Iagellonica, Kraków 2002.
Author: Anna Iwanicka-Nijakowska, September 2007.