2 mazurkas op. 62 (1933-1934)

As in the case of Chopin, Szymanowski’s last works were the piano mazurkas. Written during the years 1933-34, they differ from the 20 mazurkas op. 50 composed nearly ten years earlier mainly because of their much weaker links with folklore; the mazurka rhythm is treated here much more freely, one might say allusively; they also lack tonal references to folk music. On the other hand, their characteristic feature is the modern approach to the pianotexture, consisting in the introduction of ornamental figurations which level out the rhythmic course of the mazurka and emphasise purely timbral effect, as well as a degree of restraint and sophisticated expression. One could risk the claim that calling these miniatures “mazurkas” was based not so much on their relationship to the archetype of the folk dance, nor even their Chopinesque stylisation, but only on the composer’s feeling of an inner bond with Chopin’s legacy.
Writing to Zofia Kochańska on 22 February 1933, the composer had this to say about the first of these two pieces: “I have written a very pleasant and cheerful mazurka, and I enjoy playing it very much. It’s funny but as I get old the music I write gets more and more cheerful!!” The second mazurka owes its existence to a commission received by Szymanowski from a London music lover, Sir Victor Cazalet, during the composer’s stay in England during the autumn of 1934. Both pieces were performed for the first time by the composer himself at a private concert in London on 4 November 1934.