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Sonatina für Alina
Paweł MYKIETYN (b.1971)
Sonatina für Alina [6:23]
Anioły w Ameryce [7:26]
Edward SIELICKI (b.1956)
Differentia specifica. Una fantasia quasi tango [15:27]
Jerzy DERFEL (b.1941)
Sonata in E minor for soprano saxophone and strings [16:31]
Jacek GRUDZIEŃ (b.1961)
Concerto for soprano saxophone and winds [12:45]
Alina Mleczko (saxophones)
Baltic Neopolis Orchestra/Tomasz Tomaszewski
rec. Klasztor Cedynia, Cedynia, Poland, 16-19 December 2013
DUX 1161 [59:14]

On offer here are five works for saxophone and chamber ensemble, by four contemporary Polish composers. They, and soloist Alina Mleczko, are new to me and likely to other readers, though the notes indicate that Mleckzo has already recorded at least four other albums.

The liner-notes start right out addressing the inevitable question - in imperfect but entirely comprehensible English translation: "Whenever a saxophone is mentioned, we immediately associate it with jazz, popular music, and merely few pieces out of the symphonic canon." Indeed, and one of the merits of this collection of compositions is that not all of them recall the popular genres but deploy the saxophone to other - dare I say "purer"? - musical ends.

Paweł Mykietyn is a clarinetist as well as composer, and has written three symphonies as well as collaborated on film scores. He is represented by two works. The eponymous "Sonatina für Alina" reminds us of the saxophone's relation to its fellow woodwinds, with effects that are both dramatic and edgily modern. "Anioły w Ameryce" or "Angels of America" is a slow, pensive piece. Its intensity, with the saxophone serving as a vocalise, makes this my favourite work in this collection.

Edward Sielicki, active in many areas of composition, provides the work with the most popular references: "Differentia specifica. Una fantasia quasi tango." This is, in effect, a deconstruction of a tango, laying bare its component parts for examination although the mood is light-hearted, at times even giddy, for an autopsy.

Composer and pianist Jerzy Derfel provides the most structurally classical piece in "Sonata in E minor for alto saxophone and strings". Derfel effects a combination of late classical and early romantic sonata-form logic with quintessential saxophone sound and style.

Jacek Grudzień is active predominantly in theatre and film composition. His "Concerto for Soprano Saxophone and Winds" reflects this in its colourful atmosphere and high momentum.

The liner-notes provide a touch of authenticity, being in Polish and English. The last few pages of the booklet consist of advertisements for Polish tourist spots, from underwriters of the recording,

Saxophonist Alina Mleczko shares with the composers of these works the goal of extending the possibilities of the sound of the saxophone, particularly those that go beyond sounds that recall the instrument's predominance in jazz. They are successful in this endeavour. That said, this disc's target audience is the small group of intrepid explorers of the byways of contemporary Polish music. For that group of explorers, Alina Mleczko and DUX have done valuable work.

Brian Burtt



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