Władysław Żeleński had the Six Character Pieces for piano, op. 17 ready around 1871, although it is quite possible that he composed them earlier, even in 1864. Such is indicated by the opus number. At that time he was giving opus numbers to works in chronological order of composition. This set is dedicated to Auguste Auspitz-Kolár, a pianist whom Żeleński could have met on one of his trips to Vienna. The composer published these works in 1872, with Gotthard of Vienna, in two books under the common title Sechs Charakterstücke. The present edition is based on Ludwig Doblinger’s Viennese edition (cat. no. 1221 comprises the Praeludium, Promenade and Tanz, cat. no. 1222 the Canon, Scherzo and Abschied).
The compositions collected in Żeleński’s opus 17 have been unjustly forgotten. Their undeniable qualities include advanced harmonies and expressive melodic writing, as well as a wide range of textural means and composition techniques. Quite ‘densely’ written, these miniatures may prove challenging, but the right fingering eliminates many difficulties of performance.
The first book of the Six Character Pieces opens with a Prelude. Here the voices are often led in thirds, sixths and octaves. This work is ideally suited to practising parallel intervals, but with its expressive qualities it can also be successfully played in a recital by a mature pianist.
The second piece, entitled Promenade, displays a distinct ABA form. The composer gradually builds up to a climax, beginning with an initially innocent motif and an intricate right-hand part.
The Dance is the most complex of all the three pieces. Here the composer juxtaposes two different characters: a waltz in A flat major in the outer sections with a playful scherzando in the middle, led in E major. The virtuosic triplet progressions in a Chopinesque brillant style lend this miniature a light feel. The closing coda recapitulates the principal motifs.
In the first book of Six Character Pieces, besides the Chopinesque subtleties, one also notes inspirations from the German Romantic tradition, while Żeleński himself comes across as an extremely interesting figure in Polish neoromanticism and a composer who elaborated his own original, distinctive style.
- ISMN 979-0-2740-3422-1
- Language of edition: pol, eng
- Cover: softcover
- No. of edition: 1
- Published: 2021