Goerner plays Nowakowski & Krogulski
Józef Nowakowski (1800 65) and Józef Krogulski (1815 42). Even in their native Poland their names are hardly known. On this evidence they should have international recognition, for both works are well able to stand comparison with the chamber music of the ‘Great Composers’ of the period.
Nowakowski’s E flat major Quintet of 1833, considered lost for decades, has the same instrumentation as Hummel’s Op 87 Quintet (in the same key) and Schubert’s Trout Quintet. If you like these two masterpieces, I guarantee you will fall for this one. The first of its four movements (15 minutes with exposition repeat) has a second subject which the booklet identifies with some justification as ‘one of the most beautiful in the whole of the 19th-century Polish chamber literature’. Then comes a fiery C minor Presto (performing the function of a scherzo), a Romance and a sonata-rondo finale. Nowakowski, by all accounts, was an accomplished pianist (Chopin took a keen interest in his music) and Nelson Goerner is kept on the qui vive throughout. If he is the de facto star of proceedings, rightly setting the pace and tone, his partners match him every step of the way, and in the thrilling note-spinning finale do so with palpable glee.
It is this same youthful camaraderie that permeates the performance of Krogulski’s four-movement Octet, another winner which must surely find its way into the regular repertoire. Composed in 1834, it seems to have been modelled on Hummel’s Septet in D minor and was written when its wunderkind composer-pianist was a mere 19 years old (he died, even younger than Chopin, from tuberculosis). Goerner again has his work cut out, a task in which he revels with exuberant dexterity, throwing down the gauntlet in the scintillating first movement and à la bohemienne finale, a challenge which the others (notably the flute and first violin) meet with relish.
This superbly recorded disc is the most enjoyable chamber music disc – and the most interesting discovery – to come my way for some time.