Baroque music, early 20th-century compositions, and… negro spirituals. What brings these elements of a varied and apparently incoherent repertoire together into an attractive whole is the extraordinary figure of Roman Maciejewski. The composer, who combined a colourful biography with a unique approach to artistic work, is frequently described as an ‘outsider’ – a word used by Stefan Szlachtycz in a biographical film dedicated to this artist. True enough, Maciejewski’s works steered clear of the stylistic mainstream, of trends and fashions that dominated in 20th-century music. What is more, like very few other composers he remained sensitive throughout his life to the fundamental relations that linked him to God, Nature, Beauty, Art, and most of all – to his fellow Humans. (…)
To Maciejewski, the aim of transcription writing was primarily to present a given style and the characteristics of another composer’s musical language in an attractive manner; to familiarise audiences with that other artist’s music, as filtered through Maciejewski’s own imagination. How much of his own artistic individuality can we find in these transcriptions? Most likely as much as our performers, Katarzyna Rajs and Piotr Kępiński, have comprised in the recordings found on this album. In order to interpret these works, they had to gain insights into outstanding works that have played a major role in music history, such as concertos by Johann Sebastian Bach and George Frideric Handel, but also to discover in their artistic sensitivity their own ways of presenting the ardent negro spirituals. From unearthed and reinterpreted manuscripts, first editions, copies and different versions of these transcriptions, the duo of pianists has reconstructed a kind of musical journey, which they present here for the first time. Having explored some of the Baroque splendours, they take us further to the world of Romantic-age and 20th-century virtuosi: Franz Liszt, Fritz Kreisler, Ignacy Jan Paderewski, and Enrique Granados, from which they have selected virtuosic and highly expressive miniatures, such as Mélodie in G flat major, Liebesleid (Love’s Sorrow), and Liebestraum (Dream of Love). Later the pianists lead us into the free domain of the negro spirituals, which, though performed here in the textless form of ‘objective’ piano textures, nevertheless preserve the beauty of their simple tunes and the wealth of harmony, as well as the depth that characterises this repertoire.
This varied and exquisite musical world is definitely worthy of an attentive listening. It is the history of music as seen through the prism of Maciejewski’s personality, reinterpreted in a modern fashion.