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Recordings of the Month



From Ocean’s Floor


Conner Riddle Songs

Rodzinski Sibelius

Of Innocence and Experience



CD: MDT AmazonUK AmazonUS

Works for Flute by 20th Century Wrocław Composers
Jacek ROGALA (b.1966)
* Litoral, for flute and piano [10:34]
Leszek WISŁOCKI (b.1931)
+ 10 Preludes, for flute and piano [16:37]
Eco, for flute and electronics [13:19]
Jadwiga SZAJNA-LEWANDOWSKA (1912-1994)
Sonatina, for flute and piano [7:00]
Joachim Georg GÖRLICH (1931-2009)
# Zwölftoneindrücke, for flute and piano, op.9 [5:24]
Mirosław GĄSIENIEC (b.1954)
Capriccio, for flute and piano [3:51]
Spanish Dance, for flute and piano [2:34]
Grzegorz Olkiewicz (flute)
Mirosław Gąsieniec (piano); *Teresa Worońko (piano); +Maria Szwajger-Kułakowska (piano); #Andrzej Jungiewicz (piano)
rec. Wrocław, 1992-93. DDD
DUX 0826 [59:19] 

Experience Classicsonline

As the title makes clear, the composers on this CD, more or less unknown outside Poland, have a common connection with the city of Wrocław, where Katowice-born flute virtuoso Grzegorz Olkiewicz (b.1959) made these recordings for Polish Radio nearly twenty years ago. Olkiewicz's old-school website lists a substantial discography that includes several cassette tapes - a term the Oxford English Dictionary last year declared defunct! - but this appears to be the first time these recordings have been made available in any medium.
Jacek Rogala's Litoral is probably not the wisest choice for opening the programme, as it is quite different from the other, more diatonically-oriented works, being fairly avant-garde in some of its techniques, sounds and structure, and thus least likely to inspire the casual browser to continue perusal. That said, it is an investigation into articulation and sonority of considerable interest, with Grzegorz Olkiewicz extracting some amazing sounds from the flute.
The two short pieces by Mirosław Gąsieniec will have the widest appeal, the Capriccio as rhythmically playful as the Spanish Dance is ethnically colourful. Gąsieniec plays the piano in his own works and also in Jadwiga Szajna-Lewandowska's will-o'-the-wispy neo-Classical Sonatina. Joachim Görlich's Zwölftoneindrücke ('Twelve-tone Impressions') is nowhere near as dodecaphonically austere as the title suggests: in fact, it sounds like a nearly-tonal nocturne, gentle, dreamy and bathed in moonlight. Leszek Wisłocki's Ten Preludes is the most substantial work on the disc, and overall probably the most impressive, a collection of nostalgic movements in which ethereal, atmospheric ballads alternate with neo-Baroque dances and fleeting impressionism.
In fact, Grażyna Pstrokońska-Nawratil's Eco is the only work that rather outstays its welcome, with the novelty of the overlaid echo-effect wearing off after five minutes. The "fairy-tale mood" promised in the notes is thus more Grimm than Andersen.
Whatever the music, there can be no qualms about the quality of Grzegorz Olkiewicz's performance, which is impressively virtuosic and emotionally persuasive. These are works that he doubtless believes should be in the international flute repertoire, and in most cases he would be right. With luck this CD will give them some impetus.
Sound quality is fairly good, at least taking the recording dates into consideration - the flute is strident at times when it plays forte. There is some faint background static in evidence in places, most noticeably in the Görlich. Deliberate digital manipulation in Eco aside, the flute is suspiciously reverberant in most pieces, suggesting that it is an artifice added later - recently? - in the studio. There are one or two editing joins here and there, though nothing obtrusive. The CD is rather short, but generosity of timing is rarely a selling-point with Dux discs.
Much of the booklet is taken up with long-winded biographies of the performers - pianist Andrzej Jungiewicz, for example, despite the fact that his contribution to this programme is only five minutes, "started to learn the piano with K. Gołęberska and R. Strycka in Nowa Sól. He continued his studies with K. Musiał at the Secondary School of Music in Katowice, before enrolling at the city's Academy of Music, where he studied piano with J. Stompel and chamber music with M. Szwajger-Kułakowska and U. Stańczyk." And so on - all very nice for his friends and colleagues to read, but the kind of stuff likely to induce a coma in most readers. Nevertheless, he and the other three pianists - far more than accompanists - certainly earn their wages in this ultimately rewarding programme, for which the liner-notes are, in contradistinction to the biographies, to-the-point and informative.
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