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Artur MALAWSKI (1904-1957)  
Piano Trio in C sharp minor (1953) [25:59]
Krzysztof MEYER (b. 1943)
Piano Trio, op.50 (1980) [33:36]
Altenberg Trio Wien (Amiram Ganz (violin); Alexander Gebert (cello); Claus–Christian Schuster (piano))
rec. 2005, RadioKulturhaus Grosser Sendesaal, ORF Funkhaus, Wien. DDD
Experience Classicsonline

Here’s two splendid examples of Polish chamber music in persuasive performances which are sure to help these works find a big audience.

Malawski’s work starts with the most wonderfully mysterious slow introduction, all clouds and obscurity. This gives way to a full-blooded Allegro, passionate, tense and fiery which ends abruptly when the music has run its course. The slow movement is full of atmosphere, muted string sonorities and disquieting piano writing. Then, all of a sudden, there’s a wild outburst in the middle. A brief scherzo is over before it’s really begun – a shame for it is a fine movement. Obsession plays a big part in this music – and the finale has elements of a mad moto perpetuo - think of the finale of the Ravel Piano Trio on speed, and you’ve got it. This is forthright and forceful music, a marvellously constructed piece, full of tunes and very satisfying to listen to. I have the feeling that I’ve never heard a note by Malawski before hearing this work. Now I really want to hear a lot more. A fabulous piece in a superbly conceived performance. 

Last September I welcomed a disk of three Concertos by Krzysztof Meyer (see review) and was hoping that I would hear more soon. The opportunity has arrived and I am very pleased it has for this is another fine work by Meyer and it is fascinating. Written in five movements – three of them quite short. The other two take about two-thirds of the complete playing time of the piece – which is 33 and a half minutes, not the 22 minutes stated on the disk. It takes in a wide variety of emotions and atmosphere. The opening Impetuoso is wild and brilliant, with lots of unison work for the trio, before launching into some very lyrical music. It never loses its momentum, or its insane sense of purpose. The following Adagio – the first of the two long movements – is all scary monsters in a freakish nightmare landscape. A disturbing scherzo and more night-music come next. The finale is a kind of whirling dervish in slow motion. This music is darker than Malawski’s work but it is still very approachable, for although the language is modern it isn’t difficult to comprehend. 

I really enjoyed this disk. It is an absolute must for anyone interested in recent composition, Polish music in general, chamber music in particular and anyone wanting to branch out in their interests. Krzysztof Meyer was one of the producers of this recording so we can be assured of the authority of these performances. Don’t wait in the hope that Santa will put this exciting disk in your Christmas stocking – go out and buy it now – it’s too good to have to wait for.

Bob Briggs


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