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Barbara KASZUBA (b.1983)
Remembrance Janusz Korczak for solo violin (1995-97) [6:29]
Toccata for piano (1998) [9:41]
Contemplations for violin solo (1996-98) [8:38]
A Swashbuckling Trio for string trio (1999) [5:38]
Tanezzo for accordion (2002) [4:39]
Humoresque for violin and accordion (2000) [2:50]
Suoni per sei violinisti (2003) [10:16]
Islands of Happiness - trio for flute (violin), cello and piano (2003) [12:29]
On a Summit Glade for chamber orchestra (1999) [10:00]
Soloists: Maria Machowska (violin - Remembrance); Stanislaw Drzewiecki (piano - Toccata); Jaroslaw Nadrzycki (violin - Contemplations); Damian Walisiak (accordion - Tanezzo); Barbara Kaszuba (violin) & Katarzyna Zwierzchlewska (accordion - Humoresque)
Amadeus Orchestra of Polish Radio (Summit Glade)
rec. Academy of Music Poznań, September, October 2004; Polski Radio S.A., Warsaw, Studio S2, December 2004. DDD


Barbara Kaszuba is a graduate of the 'Poznań School of Talents' as both violinist and pianist, and as a composer from the Academy of Music in Poznań. She has won awards and prizes as both composer and performer, and her talent has been recognised by the Ministry of Culture in the Republic of Poland, who supported the making of this recording as part of a scholarship programme. This project assembled some outstanding artists of the younger generation to record Kaszuba's music, creating a melting-pot of enthusiasm and activity.

Remembrance Janusz Korczak for solo violin is a kind of lament, a moving elegy written after the composer had read a short story about Dr. Janusz Korczak's journey with children of the Dom Sierot (an orphanage) to the Nazi death camp in Treblinka.

Kaszuba's Toccata for piano is, as the title suggests, an eclectic and virtuoso exploration of the technical and sonic possibilities in the instrument, with some dramatic and super-fast ornament-like figurations and snaps. The quiet central section has a distinctly French feel.

Contemplations for violin solo has been widely performed after receiving third prize for the competition Patri Patriae (1998) for a work dedicated to Pope John Paul II. As a violinist herself, Kaszuba writes extremely well for the instrument, utilising the resonances and contrapuntal possibilities of double-stopping like a grand master.

A Swashbuckling Trio is another prize-winning work in which Kaszuba's expertise in composing for strings plays a significant role. The title alludes to the swaggering nature of the ensemble and the instrumentalists as individuals - the piece has a rhythmic energy which maintains a strong stage presence up to a contemplative 'golden section' interlude and a rousing close.

Tanezzo for accordion has a dancing quality, the associations with sea-shanties or folk music coming to the fore in a three-in-a-bar feel. The accordion joins a solo violin in the next piece, a short Humoresque which Kaszuba wrote for the instrument and here plays her own duo. This is an ideal vehicle for Kaszuba's own abilities, extending the rhythmic nature of the previous work and including some light and rapid finger-work from the accordionist.

Suoni per sei violinisti appeared as the result of acquaintance with a number of musicians, resulting in work for a homogeneous ensemble. In two movements, the violins at first gather and cluster, splintering with musical sparks, or draping aural curtains in a way which recalls some of the effects of Lutosławski or Penderecki. The second movement is a more urgent, rhythmic scherzo whose compact dimensions would seem to demand a balancing third movement.

The title: Islands of Happiness, refers to the names given to each of the work's three movements, imaginary islands Ikaba, Thira and Habaos, a gesture of respect towards Greek culture. The music is therefore a natural expression of fascinations and experiences with the Mediterranean, and the work is filled with colour and variety. The strings of the piano are sometime struck directly, giving a zither effect. A central nocturne-like movement with bell resonances and expressive, lyrical lines is framed by two punchy, rhythmic 'Islands' whose drama and imagery is left to the imagination of the listener.

On a Summit Glade concludes the disc, an atmospheric work for strings which has as its inspiration the highland folklore of south-east Europe. A mystical, sustained opening moves on toward an effect like whispering wind through the trees. This introduction preludes the main part of the work, which emerges as a whirling dance.

As a showcase for Barbara Kaszuba's work this disc is the best calling-card one could wish for. The pieces are all performed very well indeed, and recorded with care and professionalism. More information about the pieces as well as about the prizes they won might have been helpful. Her work shows a substantial and worthwhile platform of work from which a really individual voice will no doubt develop further - which makes me sound like a crusty old critic, but as I'm sure even Barbara Kaszuba would wish to agree with the sentiment; "the best is yet to come"!

Dominy Clements


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