Of the many masterpieces Szymanowski wrote during World War I, the works which best embody the achievements of this period are a series of three triptychs, all with mythology as a backdrop: ‘Métopes for piano’, Op. 29, ‘Mythes for violin and piano’, Op. 30, and ‘Masques for piano’, Op. 34. A landmark of the violin repertoire, ‘Mythes’ is also one of the most strikingly original statements of early 20th-century music. Szymanowski was widely praised for its writing; in his own words it was “epoch-making”. ‘Métopes’ represents a level of experimentation in harmony and form a few steps further on from ‘Mythes’.
Despite their fiendish difficulty, ‘Mythes’ and ‘Métopes’ were not conceived as public statements - their messages are imbued with intimacy and confidentiality.
The same cannot be said of ‘Masques’, which decisively admits the extravagance of the musical language nurtured in the previous triptychs and expands it in every way. All three works share a move from darkness to light, from death to life, infiltrated by a hedonistic joie de vivre.
Ronaldo Rolim grew up in Brazil before moving to the United States in 2005. He has been mentored by Flavio Varani, Benjamin Pasternack and Boris Berman, and currently resides in Philadelphia. Rolim tours extensively on the international stage as a solo recitalist, with orchestras, and as a chamber musician.