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Józef ŚWIDER (1930–2014)
Lyrical Miniatures for flute, oboe, clarinet, horn and bassoon (1975) [12:20]
Allegretto for flute and piano (1952) [7:38]
Scherzo for flute and guitar (2007) [5:15]
Andante for oboe and piano (1951) [5:15]
Improvisation for clarinet and piano (1991) [7:53]
Sonata for bassoon and piano (1954) [13:35]
Mini-Quintetto for flute, oboe, clarinet, horn and bassoon (1993/2005) [16:43]
Maria Grochowska (flute), Piotr Pyc (oboe), Roman Widaszek (clarinet), Marek Barański (bassoon), Mariusz Ziętek (horn), Eugeniusz Knapik (piano), Wanda Palacz (guitar)
rec. 2016, NOSPR Chamber Hall, Katowice
CD ACCORD ACD228-2 [68:53]

Though he is often associated with choral music and with opera the Polish composer Józef Świder has also written a strong body of music for wind instruments. A fellow graduate from the School of Music in Katowice in 1955 was Górecki, as indeed was Wojciech Kilar, but Świder was never taken by the lure of the avant-garde, prefer a more moderate, occasionally neo-classical influenced métier. The notes to this release can barely conceal their distaste for the ‘achievements’ of Modernist art, preferring instead to applaud Świder’s ‘music in waiting for Post-Modernism’. If this is too many isms or anti-isms for you, then his music may offer a corrective.

The Lyrical Miniatures of 1975 are rich in texture and mobile colour and there’s a lyric, curlew-like passion in the third of the seven – forlorn and questing. There’s a loquacious, scherzo-like fourth miniature, a touch Francophile in orientation, and some Mahlerian cadences in the Lento of the fifth. As those influences, or putative influences indicate, Świder’s music is anything but unapproachable. The much earlier Allegretto for flute and piano amplifies those French hues, as its pastoral qualities reflect the influence of Poulenc and the ever-influential Roussel. A quarter of a century later he wrote a Scherzo for flute and guitar - a Berceuse-like affair of avuncular warmth. One of the loveliest of the pieces to be encountered is the Andante for oboe and piano which, like several other pieces, was found only after the composer’s death. Far more than a mere ‘academic paper’ it reflects his abiding love of melody and balance.

The skirling vitality of the Improvisation for clarinet and piano of 1991 is vivid but incrementally slows. Higher and lower registers are duly explored as the music ends. In 1954 he wrote a Bassoon Sonata, youthfully neo-classical and full of incident with a pawky but witty quality that perhaps reflects the influence of the recently deceased Prokofiev’s more barbarous writing. To finish there is the Mini-Quintetto for the combination of flute, oboe, clarinet, horn and bassoon. Composed in 1993 and revised in 2005 it draws on some Baroque cadences to present fanfare-like moments, and conjures up piquant sonorities and conjunctions of colour. And here, too, the droll and waggish suggests the abiding lure of Les Six and the jocular, nose-thumbing French school in this repertoire. This is the world premiere recording of the seven-movement version of the work.

Świder frequently wrote for friends and colleagues and the performers here don mantles with great assurance. There’s a vivid and often infectious sense of communication here, accentuated by the recording and the excellent notes.

Jonathan Woolf



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