- Sonata for piano in E flat minor, Op 21
- Variations & Fugue for Piano in A minor, Op. 11
- Variations & Fugue on an original theme for piano in E flat minor, Op 23
Jonathan Plowright explores the weightier music written by virtuoso pianist Ignace Paderewski that goes far beyond the composer's familiar "Minuet" and other light, character pieces. In the full Romantic, poetic vein, the "Sonata" has outer movements full of passion and tension that would appeal to any young, hotshot pianist, but Plowright is a pianist with mature sensibilities. His playing is brilliant and powerful, but also controlled, so that the frequent forward-rushing moments and drama don't get out of hand, and the periods of relative calm and the formal structure of the writing -- particularly in the finale -- aren't glossed over. There is a thoughtfulness and intimacy to the second movement that adds meaning to its dreamy qualities. The two sets of variations are less known than the sonata, and like it, will appeal to fans of Brahms and Rachmaninoff. The first is from a time when Paderewski was still relatively young and studying composition, before he dove headfirst into becoming a touring pianist. The second is from the same year as the sonata, both written amongst a period of renewed compositional effort after becoming that world-famous musician. Both sets are more formal than the sonata, but there is still interesting expressive content, which can contrast greatly between variations, such as between "Variation 14 Allegro feroce" and "Variation 15," a delicate and balletic "Andantino," in the Op. 23 set. Plowright makes both sets of variations compelling collections that should be heard more than once. He proves that Paderewski left behind more that is worth examining than just a quaint minuet and the fading memories of an impressive sonata.