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Andrzej CWOJDZIŇSKI (b. 1928)
Symphony No. 1 (1995) [25:00] ɚ
Grażyna BACEWICZ (1909-1969)
Polish Caprice for violin solo (1949) [2:34]*
Krzysztof PENDERECKI (b. 1933)
Cadenza for violin solo (1984) [5:48]*
Kazimierz ROZBICKI (b. 1932)
Fading Raptures [11:06] ɚ
Agata Szymczewska (violin) *
Koszalin Philharmonic Orchestra/Ruben Silva ɚ
rec. Koszalin Philharmonic, 11-12 September 2006 (ɚ); Polish Radio Studio 09 February 2006 (*)

Experience Classicsonline

The cover art, as well as Szymczewska’s name in large-point font is somewhat misleading on this release. In fact she plays only just over eight minutes of almost three-quarters of an hour playing time of this CD. This disc is, more than anything, a musical portrait of the city of Koszalin, in that the artists featured here have — or had —connections with artistic life in that city. There’s even a letter of greeting from the mayor contained in the liner-notes. Overall, this disc is an interesting and engaging sample of the artistic life of a city that will be unknown to many outside Poland.

Leading off the programme is the first symphony of Cwojdzinski. The composer has had a long-standing involvement with the Koszalin Philharmonic, serving as its manager from 1964 to 1979. Born in Jaworzno in 1928, his first conductor position was with the Łodz Philharmonic in the middle-fifties. He has since been the guest conductor of most of the orchestras in Poland and a teacher in several universities. The music for this symphony begins quietly with rolls on the timpani. The composer’s comments in the liner-notes point to a conscious gravitation toward the Classical four-movement model. Though it does follow this general scheme, the compositional style is more along the lines of Alexander Tcherepnin. The outer two movements are two to three times the length of the middle movements and serve as two rather hefty bookends to the scherzo and intermezzo. The scherzo moves rather agitatedly along before breaking off mid-crescendo into a middle section of counterpoint, which builds in intensity, returning us to the thematic material that started the movement. The Intermezzo is a chorale-like gem that all too soon launches into the tripping movement of the finale.

The other orchestral piece on the disc is the Fading Raptures of Rozbicki. Rozbicki acted as conductor for the Koszalin Philharmonic from 1967 to 1973, serving also as the musical director of the Baltic Drama Theatre from 1969 to 1980. Much of his musical output is accompaniment to dramatic productions, but he also has a wonderfully listenable Mass, the Missa Festiva, released recently on Acte Préalable and available for purchase through this site. In a completely different style than the Mass, Fading Raptures, at least at the beginning, appears to be a study in deflation, with grand outbursts from the ensemble ending with downward glissandi. There are pauses, as if the orchestra needs to gather its forces back together before attempting another assault. The middle section holds a measure of tension as the orchestra latch onto an idea and build with it, until it too deflates. It’s an interesting and intriguing piece to end the disc; a sort of parting statement to indicate that there’s more to come from Koszalin.

As for Agata Szymczewska, she does quite well in her two expressive and contrasting pieces, separated in their composition by almost forty years. Bacewicz’s brief caprice begins broodingly before launching into a folk-dance-inspired showpiece filled with rapidly-articulated double-stops. Penderecki’s Cadenza, composed as an appendix to his Viola Concerto, begins with an uneasy downward figure, not unlike breathing, before things intensify in a manner that brings Schnittke to mind. A terse narrative line is punctuated with triple stops and extended double-stopped passages, ending with a ghostly section that brings back the breathing figure with harmonics superimposed. Szymczewska makes a very good case for the Penderecki piece especially. Perhaps another disc of her performances is in the offing?

Overall, this is an interesting collection, well-recorded, if a bit short on playing time by modern standards. Certainly an enjoyable and occasionally challenging listen.

David Blomenberg





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