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Stanislaw MORYTO (b. 1947)
Cztery utwory w polskim stylu (Four Pieces in Polish Style)(2011) [11:08]
Henryk Mokolaj GÓRECKI (1933 – 2010)
Trzy utwory w dawnym stylu (Three Pieces in Olden Style) (1963) [9:37]
Romuald TWARDOWSKI (b. 1930)
Tryptyk mariacki (Triptych of the Virgin Mary) (1973) [10:15]
Witold LUTOSŁAWSKI (1913 – 1994)
Pięć melodii ludowych (Five Folk Melodies) (1952) [4:47]
Wojciech KILAR (1932 – 2013)
Orawa (1986) [8:40]
Sinfonia Academica Chamber Orchestra/Leszek Sokolowski
rec. Podlasie Opera and Philharmonic Opera, Bialystok, Poland, November 2012
DUX 0939 [44:31]

Three generations of Polish composers are represented on this attractive if rather short-timed disc with music for strings. Dominating are those from the golden age, born in the early 1930s. Among the really great ones only Penderecki (b. 1933) is missing from the line-up – at least from an international perspective.
The youngest is Stanislaw Moryto, born in 1947, and his very recent Four Pieces in Polish Style, which here gets its premiere recording, is in a way a synthesis of what his predecessors had achieved. Like most of the earlier works on the disc it is based on Polish folk music and dance is an important ingredient. The last two pieces of Moryto’s work are both dances, rural in the Larghetto, more aggressively urban in the finale. This is invigorating music that should appeal to most listeners.
Gorecki’s Three Pieces in Olden Style have been recorded several times before. This work was once available on an Olympia disc as filler to Karol Teutsch’s recording of Gorecki’s Third Symphony, several years before David Zinman’s recording of the symphony became a hit. This is accessible music and dance is again present, at least in the middle movement: energetic, motoric. The third movement is an elegy.
Romuald Twardowski was born in Vilnius in Lithuania, where he also studied and worked as organist before he moved to Warsaw. In the mid-1960s he studied Gregorian chant and medieval polyphony for Nadia Boulanger in Paris, and fruits of these studies can be felt in the Triptych of the Virgin Mary, which is deeply moving – in particular the Deposition. In between the three parts of the triptych he inserts two dances, contrasting sharply to the surrounding music. The first dance, played pizzicato is truly charming, the second maybe even more so. The concluding Resurrection is built on terrace dynamics. A fascinating and attractive work. The Nestor in this company, Lutosławski, offers Five Folk Melodies from 1952 which are transcriptions from a collection of twelve melodies for piano. This is Lutosławski at his most accessible. The melodies are short and swift, at around one minute each, and the descriptive titles further stimulate the imagination of the listener.
The recently deceased Wojciech Kilar, he passed away on 29 December 2013, was a prolific composer. He was also commercially successful as a writer of film music for among others Roman Polanski, Francis Ford Coppola and Jane Campion. His Orawa evoked quite a stir when it was first performed. “A refined primitivism”, wrote Ludwik Erhardt, while Jan Krenz called it a “long-awaited breath of fresh air in the musty room of Polish music”. The inspiration was the music of Podhale in the Tatra Mountains, here condensed to … well, minimalistic dimensions – though Kilar himself talked of ‘maximalism’ instead. Erhardt’s “refined primitivism” may hit the mark but should perhaps be modified with a dose of barbarism as well. It is repetitive but also saturated with a vitality that is irresistible. This is very physical music and seeing it performed with the energy and expression of a rock group can be quite exhausting. You leave the concert hall in the same mood as after a vitamin injection or a blood transfusion and you never forget the experience. On this recording you miss the visual dimension but the playing is still on such a level of intensity that you can imagine the collective movements of the orchestra.
I could grumble about short measure – the total playing time is less than 45 minutes – and there could have been room for another half-hour of music you are not likely to hear that often. Still what actually is here is worth the attention of the music-loving public.
Göran Forsling