...The pieces themselves, however, I find too similar in content to make me feel that I have heard four mazurkas...
I partly agree with this. (Of course if I agreed entirely then I wouldn't be playing these pieces!) Possibly they're in the class of music that's more interesting to play than to listen to. And certainly the one time I heard all twenty performed as a set, it was a bit too much to take in. But I hope that number ten stands out as distinctly different from the other three that I offered here. And as for the rest, it takes a while to get used to the harmonic language, but it does grow on you after a while
In the concert I didn't play them consecutively: there were Bach preludes and fugues in between.
p.s. Thank you, Alexander, for making correct tags!
The only thing I had to add were the tempo markings for each piece. Usually, if there is no real name, then there is a tempo for the name or else a key.
In my own mind, "mazurka" was quite sufficient as a real name, so it didn't occur to me to add tempo indication. But now that I bother to check, I notice that the other Szymanowski mazurkas on this site have tempos attached, so I should have been consistent. Thanks for fixing that up.
From your name I would guess you have some Polish ancentry, and it sounds like this music is in your blood.
This set of Mazurkas is an endlessly fascinating journey, but also a difficult one...My own projected cycle seems to have stalled long ago, as often happens when I hit an obstacle that is too high (in this case the middle section of no.8 that I have doubt of ever mastering).
I thought I heard some rhythmic issues in one of these, maybe it was artistic freedom, but would have to check with score to be sure.
Very diplomatically put! There's a fine line between "artistic freedom" and blind panic in the heat of performance. I did find these pieces significantly harder to memorise than the Bach fugues.
Another reason why I probably won't play the complete cycle is that I can't reach all the tenths, and in some pieces ( such as number 8 ) they do seem to be integral to the texture. I nearly backed out of doing number 10, but it turned out to be worth the effort in the end.
The other generally neglected Szymanowksi work that I'd like to get stuck into if I ever feel brave enough is the second set of studies, opus 33. I found a CD of Mikhail Rudy making them sound far too easy...
I believe my family name is Ukrainian. I don't have much direct contact with that culture now, but perhaps there are some unconscious leanings in that direction.