- Masques (3) for piano, Op. 34, M35
- Piano Sonata No. 3, Op. 36, M38
- Metopes, poems (3) for piano, Op. 29, M31
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The piano music of Karol Szymanowski is still obscure enough that each new hearing can feel like a fresh encounter. Although Martin Jones's set of all the works for the Nimbus label and Marc-André Hamelin's recent disc of the complete mazurkas certainly did much to reveal the composer's brilliance, with this release, Piotr Anderszewski makes an irresistibly strong case for the decadently flavored works that Szymanowski composed during the First World War. Hints -- and occasionally more than hints -- of Debussy and Ravel, Scriabin and Stravinsky waft through the Métopes (inspired by a sculptural relief of scenes from Homer's Odyssey) and Masques, but the influences are synthesized into something unmistakably and luxuriously new. It's fitting that Szymanowski explored the story of the Sirens in the first Métope, because few composers could have imagined their seductive song so convincingly. Indeed, throughout these works -- and especially in performances of such rare understanding, sympathy, and technical command as Anderszewski's -- the composer creates a musical world of unusual beauty in which the listener can't help but linger. In the last of these three works to be composed, the Piano Sonata No. 3, Szymanowski strikes a balance between exotic languor and abstract classical style -- yes, that is a fugue at the end -- but in a concisely laid out single-movement form. If Anderszewski's poetic nature finds an outlet in the rhapsodic earlier works, the Sonata reminds us, too, of his expertise in Beethoven and Bach. And as a whole, despite being devoted to a single composer, this disc reveals precisely the abundance of talent that has skyrocketed Anderszewski to the top ranks of today's young pianists.