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CD: AmazonUK

Kazimierz SEROCKI (1922-1981)
Romantic Concerto for piano and orchestra (1951) [24:43]
Tadeusz BAIRD (1928-1981)
Piano Concerto (1949) [19:52]
Jan KRENZ (b. 1926)
Concertino for piano and orchestra (1952) [20:02]
 Adam Wodnicki (piano)
National Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra/Tadeusz Wojciechowski (Serocki, Krenz); Jerzy Swoboda
rec. G. Fitelberg Concert Hall, Katowice, 1 June 1999, 16 May 2000, 18 May 2001. DDD
world premiere recordings. Polskie Radio.
 DUX 0651 [64:27]
Experience Classicsonline

Dux open a casement onto three completely unfamiliar tonal-melodic piano concertos from Iron Curtain Poland. Frankly the rootedly tonal language came as something of a surprise. I was expecting something more severe. In fact all three works are entertaining and accessible. They are also bound together by the principles shared by these three composers who together came to be known as 'Group 49'.   Let's take the Serocki for a start. Like the other two concertos it is in three movements. The music is lucidly orchestrated and finds a realm somewhere between the lyricism of Ravel, the hard-gleam of Prokofiev and the visceral rhythmic Petrushka-like grunt of Stravinsky. The writing is catchily exciting in the outer movements and smilingly sensitive yet chilly in the Lento 'delicatamente e cantabile', an expressive marking which gives you a faithful idea of the mood and accent. There were a couple of moments when I thought of the John Ireland piano concerto too although Serocki's writing is more virile and driven.

Baird is almost as distant from us as Serocki. We might recall him from a trio of long-gone Olympia OCD discs: OCD 312: Epiphany Music for Orchestra (1963); Elegy for Orchestra (1973); Symphony no. 3 (1969); Four Love Sonnets for baritone and chamber orchestra (1956); Concerto Lugubre for viola and orchestra (1975); OCD 326: Psychodrama for orchestra (1972); Tomorrow (opera) for mezzo, baritone, bass, speaker & orchestra (1966) and OCD 388: various. His Colas Breugnon suite for flute and orchestra (EMI Matrix disc CDM5 65418-2 and later EMI Classics Double Fforte) dates from four years after the Piano Concerto. The concerto is reserved but only by comparison with the flamboyance and occasional syncopation of the Serocki.

We may well know Krenz's name as a conductor but he also wrote the film score for Kanal, part of Wajda's Warsaw trilogy. Krenz's Concertino leans toward the eager brightness of Poulenc - at one moment Stravinskian neo-classical and at another candidly romantic. There's even a Tippett-style rapture in the string writing. Most striking though are the remarkably heart-stilling and tranced strings-and-celesta passages in the Andante sostenuto. At times it is as if Panufnik - surely an influence? - had been toying with Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.   This collection can be compared with the slightly more unyielding CD Accord anthology of three other Polish piano concertos as reviewed here in 2003.   This is a well documented and excitingly recorded collection which should appeal to the adventurous among you - at least those with tastes that lean away from the feral avant-garde.
Rob Barnett

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