Another musical silver lining has emerged from the dark cloud of the pandemic—in the form of a new recording by pianist Marek Szlezer. Long a colleague of the Polish Music Center, Szlezer has performed many concerts at USC and with our various partners throughout California (even virtually), most often as one half of the renowned Cracow Duo. He is also a teaching partner in the Youth Cultural Exchange of the Paderewski Festival in Paso Robles, which is organized by the PMC.

Recorded for Poland’s prestigious DUX Records, Szlezer’s latest album highlights the Polish folk music-inspired works of Karol Szymanowski’s oeuvre. Here is what the artist has to say about the unusual but rewarding recording process of this album:

I would not have recorded this album if not for a pandemic. Thanks to the unnatural “freezing” of all concert activities, I had time for something that I had not done for a long time—to play for myself, without deadline or purpose. The stoppage of all projects caused that, together with Małgosia Polańska [of DUX Records], we had decided that it might be unique opportunity to “hide” in the studio and record some piece that I have in my repertoire which I have not recorded yet, or recorded but rejected—with no assumption, desire to bring them together as an album. After a while, another album with Karol Szymanowski’s music clearly began to emerge on the horizon, this time immersed in the world of Polish folklore …

On the album, all the Mazurkas (op.50 and op.62), Polish Dances and arrangements of Polish Songs as their specific contextual complement—they are, admittedly, mere harmonizations destined for a practical use, nevertheless in my opinion, they work very well in a purely instrumental version, especially that according to the composer himself, they are intended “for piano” and do not have a separate vocal part.

This latest recording by Marek Szlezer (DUX 1680) has just been released and is available for purchase on