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  Classical Editor Rob Barnett    


AVAILABILITY

MGB Records (Migros-Genossenschafts-Bund) http://www.musikszene-schweiz.ch http://www.musiques-suisses.ch/

Bettina SKRZYPCZAK (b. 1962)
Scene for violin and cello (2001)
Noemi Schindler (violin) and Christophe Roy (violoncello) – recorded 14/12/2001, in the Temple St. Marcel, Paris.
Miroirs for mezzo-soprano and Ensemble (2000)
Mireille Capelle (mezzosoprano), Ensemble Contrechamps Geneve/Susanna Malkki – recorded 22-23/4/2002 at Radio Suisse Romande Geneva
Fantaisie for oboe solo (1997)
Matthias Arter (oboe) – recorded 1998 at Swiss Radio DRS 2.
SN 1993 J for orchestra (1995)
Bohuslav Martinů Philharmonie Zlin/Monica Buckland – recorded 5/5/2000 in Zlin.
Toccata sospesa for flute and two percussionists (1998)
Verena Bosshart (flute), Riccardo Bologna, Eduardo Leandro (percussion) – live recording 10/11/2001 in Radiostudio, Zurich.
Concerto for piano and orchestra (1998)
Massimiliano Damerini (piano) Swiss Philharmonic Orchestra/Mario Venzago – Live recording in Victoria Hall, Geneva.
Co-production: Swiss Radio DRS2 and Radio Suisse Romande-Espace2. DDD
MUSIKSZENE SCHWEIZ MGB CTS-M78 [73.07]

 

Bettina Skrzypczak is a young Polish-born composer, currently resident in Switzerland. Her music is the subject of this CD by Musikszene Schweiz, a mainly contemporary label, which strangely seems to have a brand name that changes language from French – German – Italian depending upon where the disc is produced.

It is a co-production between Swiss Radio DRS 2 and Radio Suisse Romande-Espace2. This label has been releasing a number of recordings of contemporary works in these ‘Composer Portraits’ which contains works by a number of composers. There is also a CIP (Centre Internationale de Percussion) disc.

The notes with this release are very comprehensive, and are in French and English, They contain a one page dated biography of the composer, plus texts to the vocal work. In addition there is also a list of other works by the composer, not included on this disc.

The good thing about this disc is that there is a certain kind of variety about the works being presented, so we get to hear the various facets of the composer’s activities.

Bettina Skrzypczak was trained by Witold Lutosławski, Luigi Nono, Henri Pousseur and Iannis Xenakis, to name but a few of the well-known composers. The names featured in this eclectic mix will perhaps prepare you for the type of music you will hear on this disc. In common with others in this series, the notes are as pretentious as you could hope to find. They tell you just about zero about the works, and much about the thoughts and aspirations of the composer as she goes about her way.

For example we are told "I feel great joy at the prospect of what I am going to discover, and at the same time a feeling of responsibility for the decisions that I make. And I find it a shame that I can’t realise fast enough the many thoughts that come when I face the empty page in front of me.

Bettina Skrzypczak’s answer to the question of how she feels when faced with an empty sheet of manuscript paper is in many ways remarkable, and sums up in the most apt way her basic tenets as a composer. Her pleasure in discovery, paired with creative responsibility, speaks so unmistakably of the sheer joy of composing that the notion of hesitation in committing music to paper or even – a worse scenario – the idea that writer’s block is simply mocked. Bettina Skrzypczak’s fear of the empty page is not that it might stay white, but that it can’t get black quickly enough.

When one considers the pain and suffering that all of the great composers have spent over the years on their manifold works, getting the final effect that they were trying to achieve, does this not tell us something. Here we have a composer who can work at speed, and although later on in the notes we are blessed with the explanation that it is not all done at break-neck speed, one wonders just how much genuine inspiration as opposed to sheer industry has gone into these works.

To me this contributes absolutely nothing to the understanding of the composer and her works. The notes are in this vein throughout and are absolutely useless in helping establish an understanding of the composer. Even when we get to the explanation of each of the works, their inspiration and a synopsis, I am afraid that I am still none the wiser.

Much better then, to listen carefully. Whilst I enjoyed the contents of this disc more than the others in the series, most of it was still pretty incomprehensible. The big disappointment for me was the absolute absence of any discernible tunes. However, I realise to some, a tune only has to be able to be played by the instrument(s) for which it was written to qualify as a tune, and so I suppose I must defer to that opinion.

On this disc we have solo, chamber, concerto and full orchestral works, and make no mistake, Bettina Skrzypczak has compositional ability in all of these classes, but I wont be listening to these again for a while.


John Phillips

 



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