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Juliusz LUCIUK (b. 1927)
The Intimate Mood [4:05]
The Children’s Tabernacle [3:31]
The Song of the Westerplatte Soldiers [5:18]
Three Rhythmic Impressions [8:47]
The Little Rose Bush [2:21]
Moth [2:09]
A Bit of Porridge [2:29]
Farewell to the Primer [3:18]
Conversation with the Moon [3:26]
A Day Without You [4:13]
The Hedgehog Song [2:21]
Bozena Harasimowicz (soprano)
Krystyna Pyszkowska (piano)
rec. Muzeum Historyczne Miasta Krakowa,sala Fontany, 19 June 2014

This nicely presented CD contains the lighter, non-orchestral works of the Polish composer Juliusz Luciuk, who is 90 this year. It would seem that the total number of pieces available can only fill the disc to a short 42 minutes.

The notes in the glossy booklet go to some length to explain or justify the composer’s decision to produce works in a lighter vein, suggesting in a rather convoluted manner that his exposure to jazz and the use of one of his pieces in a film, led to his decision.

Whatever his reasons, he was clearly able to compose easy-on-the-ear pieces for differing purposes. The first item is a vocalise – a wordless cantilena for soprano and piano, lasting some 4 minutes, sung nicely here by Bozena Harasimowicz. It sounds slightly French to me, perhaps because he studied with Boulanger and Messiaen, but that is only a fleeting impression, and it is pleasant but not particularly memorable. The second item is, I think, the best piece on the disc, being a lament, sung in English (albeit with one or two slight mispronunciations) of a poem by Sinai Lechter which is in remembrance of the children of The Holocaust. Appropriately mournful, it is a fine song lasting just over 3 minutes.

The third piece is entitled “The Song of the Westerplatte Soldiers” and became one of its composer’s best known pieces because it was used as the theme to the film “The Ferry”. Its success led Luciuk to make further forays into the realm of popular song. No translation of the Polish is provided.

The Three Rhythmic Impressions follow and are the only solo piano works. Lasting a total of just under 9 minutes, they are a rumba, a lullaby and ‘medium bounce tempo'. They are thought to date from his early years as a composer, and the third one has hints of the blues in it.

The disc winds up with seven short songs, most of 2 to 3 minutes or so duration, written for children, with titles such as “The Little Rise Bush” or “A Bit of Porridge”. Only one of them has a translation into English included in the booklet. As might be expected, they are immediately attractive on the ear, with musical styles occasionally showing hints of Jazz.

It is not really possible to express an opinion of Luciuk's musical style, given the limited range of expression of the works presented on this CD. Some of his larger orchestral works, mentioned in the booklet notes, have been recorded by Acte Prealable. It would be interesting to hear their recording of his ballet.

The recording is a good one, well balanced between voice and piano in a natural acoustic.

Jim Westhead



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