Witold Malcuzynski     (Meloclassic 1015)
Item# P1123
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Witold Malcuzynski     (Meloclassic 1015)
P1123. WITOLD MALCUZYNSKI: Variations & Fugue on a Theme by Handel (Brahms); Sonata #7 in B-flat (Prokofiev), both recorded 21 May, 1959, Paris; Sonata #23 in f (Beethoven), recorded 20 Dec., 1959, Paris. (Germany) Meloclassic 1015. Final sealed copy! - 791154050156


“Witold Malcuczynski was born 10 Aug., 1914 in Koziczyn, Poland. His family background was business and financial, rather than artistic. He began playing piano at the age of 5, starting regular lessons four years later. In 1929, he was accepted to the Warsaw Conservatory, to Prof. Jerzy Lefeld’s piano class, under whose guidance he developed his talent until 1932. At an early age he had shown an extraordinary flair for the piano, and all through his youth he spent much of his time with music. At the Warsaw Conservatory from which he was graduated with highest honors in 1932, he studied under Józef Turczyski, a friend of the pianist and statesman Ignacy Jan Paderewski, and collaborated with him in the preparation of the definitive edition of the works of Chopin. Turczyski arranged a private concert at which Paderewski was present. The master immediately recognized the young man’s extraordinary talent. He said afterwards that he knew he had found the one young pianist who could carry on the great tradition which he himself had inherited from Liszt and Chopin. Malcuczynski & Turczyski completed the Conservatory in 1936, receiving his diploma with honours. The same year, a few days before his final exam, he won the fifth award at the International Music Competition in Warsaw and debuted at the Warsaw Philharmonic, sensationally performing Liszt’s Second Concerto in A and playing Karol Szymanowski’s Variations in b minor as an encore. After the dates of the Third Chopin Competition in Warsaw were officially announced, Malcuczynski decided to take part.

Although Paderewski had always expressed an aversion to teaching and had accepted few pupils during his long career, he decided that Malcuczynski should be his personal pupil. The young Pole went to live at Paderewski’s villa in Morges on Lake Geneva, Switzerland for several months in 1936-37. There he worked daily with Paderewski. It was during that period that Paderewski was engaged in his preparation of the Monumental Centenary Edition of the works of Chopin, completed before his death in 1941, but not published until 1949, the 100th anniversary of Chopin’s death. Malcuczynski had the invaluable advantage of watching the Paderewski tone develop and of profiting from the profound scholarship and critical study that went into its preparation. Many times he had been compared to the musical immortal and his fellow countryman, Paderewski. Malcuczynski said ‘No one can compare to him, as a man and as an artist’. Paderewski believed in five-finger exercises both for himself and Malcuczynski. ‘He practiced for four hours every day long after he had passed his 70th birthday, and they were always part of the routine’. Malcuczynski’s participation in the Chopin Competition concluded with his winning the third award. Some observers thought he should have won first place while others though the placing was fair. Among members of the jury were Heinrich Neuhaus, Emil von Sauer, Isidor Philipp, Guido Agosti, and Wilhelm Backhaus. Despite his success in the Competition, his popularity with the public and counter to all predictions, Malcuczynski didn’t develop his stage career. He decided to continue his studies and broaden his repertoire. With this as a goal he left for Paris and for several months, spanning 1937-38, he attended lessons with Marguerite Long and Isidore Philippe. Shortly thereafter he gave several concerts in Warsaw and went on a countrywide tour, playing small provincial cities as well as larger centres. He began to tour all the European capitals with much success. In January 1940, he débuted in great style in Paris performing Chopin’s Second Concerto in f minor. He received rave reviews: ‘The pianist is an excellent musician with infallible tact, taste and intelligence. In his [musical] constructions there is not a single weak point nor any mistake in interpretation. The accuracy and elegance of his phrasing is incomparable. By constantly heeding simplicity and the sublime he serves music, rather than uses it. Here is a great pianist and a genuine musician!’ He then met the conductor Grzegorz Fitelberg, who offered him a tour in South America, just ahead of the German invaders for Lisbon. From there they went to South America. In November 1940, the pianist gave his first concert in Buenos Aires. Shortly thereafter he was playing dozens of concerts over the whole continent attaining unimaginable popularity.

Malcuczynski's concerts attracted the attention of Yehudi Menuhin, who helped arrange a début in the United States at Carnegie Hall. After his New York triumph, Malcuczynski did a protracted tour of North America for the three following years. He played with the greatest conductors (Koussevitzky, Monteux, Paray, Mitropoulos, Reiner and Szell among others) and orchestras, in the greatest halls and drawing thousands of listeners.

Towards the end of the war (March 1945), he got to England by army transport and gave a Chopin recital in London at Kingsway Hall. At his first Promenade Concert at the Albert Hall in August 1946, the audience was widely enthusiastic at his playing of concerti by Liszt and Chopin. After the war, he moved to Switzerland and a few months later he appeared in Paris where the public discovered him anew. From this moment Malcuczynski’s career took-off at a breath-taking pace. Every year he performed dozens of concerts on different continents. He played for a BBC broadcast in 1947 on a piano built by John Broadwood for Chopin when he visited London in 1848. The Rumanian pianist, Dinu Lipatti, who was to have visited Australia in 1949 for the ABC concert season had cancelled the contract for health reasons. In his place Malcuczynski was chosen to replace him. Among his concerts was one with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Otto Klemperer playing Chopin’s Second concerto.

Malcuczynski was a member of the jury of the International Chopin Competition in 1960 and 1970 and the Queen Elisabeth Music Competition in Belgium in 1960. He was conferred an Officer’s Cross of the Order of Polonia Restituta. Malcuczynski died 17 July, 1977 in Palma, Majorca and was buried in the Powazki Cemetery, Poland.”

- Michael Waiblinger

“Meloclassic was founded in by Lynn Ludwig in Germany in December 2013, the label dedicated to releasing previously unissued historical recordings of live radio performances and broadcasts. Whenever possible, the discs include original radio announcements and applause. The recordings are meant to serve as historical documents. The sound quality tends to remain extraordinarily quiet, with no trace of tape or wire hiss."

—Gary Lemco, Audiophile Audition, 20 July, 2014

"According to its website, Meloclassic is a ‘non-profit organisation dedicated to releasing previously unissued historical recordings of live radio performances and broadcasts’. The first thing to say is that the material, or most of it, is of exceptional artistic interest, and the sound (which is for the most part extremely clean) is thankfully free of excessive filtering….I look forward to hearing further releases in the not-too-distant future.”

- Rob Cowan, GRAMOPHONE, April, 2014

"Presentation is in a digipack with notes ‘tipped’ in – with excellent photographs, by the way, and helpful text, in English in the case of my copy. Surveying the available discs and seeing details of some of those to come - many violinists, chamber ensembles and pianists – I have no hesitation in saying that this is potentially the most exciting tranche of broadcast material to be made available in many years."

- Jonathan Woolf, MusicWebInternational, 14 June, 2014