Legendary Polish Pianists in East Germany ∙ 2CD


This double album features historic radio recordings made by four renowned Polish pianists in Germany. Henryk Sztompka and Barbara Hesse-Bukowska enjoy impressive accompaniments under the noted conductor Hermann Abendroth. Marian Filar‘s teacher Gieseking was supposed to record the Tchaikovsky First Concerto for Radio Frankfurt, but the latter offered the soloist part to Filar. Regina Smendzianka gained notable popularity in the German Democratic Republic, which led to a series of radio recording sessions.

Henry Sztompka, a celebrated pianist and pupil of Turczyński and Paderewski, attended the first international Chopin Competition in Warsaw in 1927, receiving the Polish Radio Prize for the best interpretation of Chopin’s Mazurkas. He then moved to Paris, where he lived for several years to launch his international career. He presented his first public solo recital in France at Salle Pleyel in 1928. From then on, Sztompka began concertizing all over Europe. In 1936, Sztompka accepted an invitation to teach piano at the Conservatory of the Pomeranian Music Society in Toruń, Poland. Regina Smendzianka was one of his pupils, also represented on the album. He remained during the entire occupation of Poland by Nazi Germany in Warsaw. After the war he made several foreign tours in Europe. He died after a serious illness in 1964, aged 63.

Barbara Hesse-Bukowska came from a family with a rich musical heritage. In 1938 she began studying with Maria Glińska-Wąsowska at the Conservatory of Warsaw. She first came to international fame in 1949, when she participated in the fourth International Chopin Piano Competition. Polish pianists won eight of the thirteen prizes and three of the top four, with Czerny-Stefańska (1), Hesse-Bukowska (2), and Waldemar Maciszewski (3). She attracted attention throughout Europe, Australia and the United States. From 1963, she held a piano class at the State College of Music in Wrocław, then from 1972 at the State Higher School of Music in Warsaw. Hesse-Bukowska died in 2013 in Warsaw, aged 83.

Marian Filar studied with the noted pedagogue Zbigniew Drzewiecki in Warsaw. During the occupation of Poland by Nazi Germany, Filar was captured and sent to several concentration camps, including Buchenwald and Majdanek. He was liberated by the Polish Army, but lost his parents and two siblings in the Holocaust. Filar was accepted at a displaced person (DP) camp run by the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration outside of Frankfurt. In Wiesbaden, he sought advice from Walter Gieseking, who thereupon gave him piano lessons for five years. Filar immigrated to the United States in 1950, where he appeared under Eugene Ormandy, Alfred Wallenstein and Rafael Kubelík. In 1953, he joined the faculty of the Settlement School in Philadelphia and made concert tours in South America and Europe. He died in 2012, aged 94.

Regina Smendzianka studied with Maria Zofia Drzewiecka and Henryk Sztompka at the Toruń Conservatory in Poland. Her further education was put on hold by the outbreak of World War II. She and her parents went into hiding near Kraków. Wider recognition came to her when she appeared with the Warsaw Philharmonic at the World’s Fair in Brussels in June 1958. She often gave concerts and solo recitals in the German Democratic Republic. In 1961 she made her first tour of the United States and Canada under the sponsorship of impresario Sol Hurok. Smendzianka taught several generations of aspiring young pianists in Kraków and Warsaw. She died in 2011 in Warsaw at the age of 86.


In stock


CD 1

CHOPIN: Piano Concerto No 1 in E Minor, Op 11
Barbara Hesse-Bukowska ∙ piano
Rundfunk Sinfonieorchester Berlin
Hermann Abendroth ∙ conductor

Recorded ∙ 20 February 1955 ∙ Berlin ∙ Fernmelderechnungsamt · Rundfunk der DDR · Radio Studio Recording

CHOPIN: Piano Concerto No 2 in F Minor, Op 21
Henryk Sztompka ∙ piano
Rundfunk Sinfonieorchester Leipzig
Hermann Abendroth ∙ conductor

Recorded · 05 May 1952 · Leipzig ∙ Funkhaus Springerstraße · Rundfunk der DDR · Radio Studio Recording

CD 2

TCHAIKOVSKY: Piano Concerto No 1 in B-flat Minor, Op 23
Marian Filar ∙ piano
Rundfunk Sinfonieorchester Frankfurt
Winfried Zillig ∙ conductor

Recorded ∙ 16 February 1949 ∙ Frankfurt ∙ Altes Funkhaus ∙ HR · Radio Studio Recording

PROKOFIEV: Piano Concerto No 3 in C Major, Op 26
Regina Smendzianka ∙ piano
Rundfunk Sinfonieorchester Leipzig
Herbert Kegel ∙ conductor

Recorded ∙ 20 April 1959 ∙ Leipzig ∙ Funkhaus Springerstraße · Rundfunk der DDR · Radio Studio Recording

Article number: MC 1063
UPC barcode: 791154050859
Release date: 1 April 2022
Booklet: 12 Pages
Total timing: 65:25 CD1 ∙ 59:24 CD2
From the Original Masters ∙ © 2021 Meloclassic

September 2022 ∙ MusicWeb International ∙ Rob Challinor ∙ Legendary Polish Pianists in East Germany
Meloclassic’s grand unearthing of radio treasures continues with four concertos played by pianists who have fallen into neglect. I have loved discovering these pianists and especially Hesse-Bukowska and Smendzianka who deliver performances that I will return to again and again. Production is excellent as always with good transfers of these broadcast recordings and there is plenty of detail in the biographical notes as well as a photo of Smendzianka and Sztompka at two pianos surrounded by his other students at the Conservatory of the Pomeranian Music Society. A set well worth exploring.
View here

My selected CDs 0