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World Music CD Reviews Europe

VARIOUS ARTISTS

By STACY MEYN
Published April 19, 2006

Music From the Motion Picture: The Pianist: A Roman Polanski Film
Sony Classical

WENDY LANDS SINGS THE MUSIC OF THE PIANIST WLADYSLAW SZPILMAN
Hip-O/UMG Recordings

Polish pianist Wladyslaw Szpilman not only survived the harrowing Warsaw ghetto, he emerged recalling every single note written of his (banned) popular and classical compositions. A book and film are retelling his tale, and these two discs cover the gamut of music for both. Janusz Olejniczak performs with the Warsaw Philharmonic National Orchestra of Poland, rendering exquisite performances of Szpilman’s beloved Chopin repertoire. It was Chopin’s C Sharp minor Nocturne played for a German officer that ultimately spared Szpilman. The ’40s and ’50s were a fecund time for Szpilman’s compositions, lovingly rejuvenated by son Andrzej. Lyrics are now available in English, sung by Canadian vocalist Wendy Lands. Any of these gems could have given the Gershwins pause, with timeless themes of want and wistfulness. The yearning represents a delicate balance of Szpilman’s own bereft years and his nonetheless evident indefatigable hope. The flower did indeed survive the wasteland.