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For You, Anne-Lill
Polish Music for Flute and Piano
Agata Kielar-Długosz (flute)
Andrzej Jungiewicz (piano)
rec. 2015/18, Kraków, Poland DUX 1475 [54:37]
I came to know a lot of flute music when my daughter was learning to play the instrument; this was interrupted when a serious illness took its toll and affected her breath control, but I am glad to say that she has now taken up her flute again, although I am pretty sure none of these pieces have passed under her nose.
The first piece on this disc is by Wojciech Kilar, a composer who is probably best known for his film music, especially his 1993 score for Bram Stoker’s Dracula, the one with Gary Oldman and Keanu Reeves; however I came to his music through his Exodus for mixed choir and orchestra, dating from 1981 which deals with the forced migration of Poles for forced labour in the Soviet Union and which, it could be argued, parodies Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 7. The Sonatina presented here is an early work and dates from his student days; it is in reality an exercise in composing in the neo-classical style. Its three movements last just over nine minutes, with the first movement based upon two recurring themes, the first dance-like whilst the second is slower and less rhythmically orientated. This is followed by the slow middle movement, the longest of the three; here the influence of the early twentieth-century French school is plain to hear. The final movement returns to the more rhythmically inspired dance- like main theme, more akin to Poulenc than to Debussy; like the first movement the second theme is slower that the first but this only leads into a more riotous coda with some percussive playing on the piano.
The Three Fragments for flute and piano by Witold Lutosławski were originally composed for flute and harp and were taken from productions of two plays for Polish Radio. Both composed in 1953, the composer saw the music as purely functional and it does not bear the composer’s inimitable style; rather, these again have the feel of Debussy and Fauré, especially the first piece ‘Magia’. This is followed by the Hommage a Chopin by Andrzej Panufnik, whose music has rightly been going through a reappraisal recently, although, like all the works on this disc, this is the first time I have heard this piece. It was commissioned by UNESCO to celebrate the centenary of Chopin’s birth and is divided into five movements, three of them slow. Again, this is an arrangement by the composer of his original concept, this time it was written for soprano and piano, although the notes do not make it clear if they were songs or vocalise. The music is not based on Chopin’s but on Mazovian folk melodies; the resulting work is neo-classical in style with the instruments blending well to produce what is probably my favourite work on the disc.
The name of Piotr Perkowski is new to me; after his studies at the Warsaw Academy of Music he moved to Paris where he continued his studies with Albert Roussel. This is one of the longest tracks on the disc and displays some virtuosic writing, especially in the flute part, which uses one of the widest ranges here. This is followed by another French-inspired work, the Sonatina for flute and piano by the virtuoso pianist and composer Alexander Tansman; it was only after reading the notes that I realised he had settled in Paris, in 1919 six years before he composed this work, which was where he was to spend most of his life. He was asked to join Les Six but declined, becoming a French citizen in 1938. His music closely follows neo-classical lines and draws on both his Polish and Jewish heritages, the resulting work being well-crafted with some strong writing for the flute.
Henryk Górecki is the only composer represented by two works on this disc with the first, Valentine Piece, being written for the solo flute. It was composed for the American flautist, Carol Wincenc, to whom he had dedicated his earlier Concerto-Cantata Op. 65. The idea was originally written on a napkin and based on a motif containing the notes C and A, the first two letters of her name. It has rather high writing for the flute which in places, to my ears at least, seems to imitate birds. This is something that is also to be heard in the other work by the composer, the one that gives the disc its title, For You, Anne-Lill, the longest work on the disc. It was composed for the Norwegian flautist Anne-Lill Ree. It begins in quite melancholy fashion, with the flute playing a melody over single repeated notes on the piano but branches out into more virtuosic sections with the occasional repeated bird-like calls on the flute and several shifts in intensity, making this a very varied piece in which the flute is really the star with the piano playing a subordinate role for a lot of the time.
The final work on this disc is Krzysztof Penderecki’s Misterioso for flute and piano, a short piece lasting nearly two minutes. It has the feel of a French impressionist work and so differs greatly from the composer’s later more developed style, for me it feels as if it is over too quickly and is missing something, a theme without its exposition almost.
The playing is excellent throughout. Agata Kielar-Długosz proves she is a versatile and virtuosic performer, especially in the Górecki when she is called upon to produce some stratospheric notes, whilst Andrzej Jungiewicz is an intelligent and gifted accompanist. It ian’t clear whether they perform as a regular duo, but the pair seem to have a real sense of togetherness, an affinity which is brought out in their music-making.
The booklet notes are good but could do with a little filling out, and white letters on charcoal grey paper is not the best plan, not easy to read, especially under artificial light. The recorded sound is excellent too, all too often you find the top notes of a flute can break up on recordings, but not here, they are clear and precise, with the flute and piano well balanced.
Stuart Sillitoe Contents Wojciech KILAR (1932-2013)
Sonatina for flute and piano [9:26] Witold LUTOSŁAWSKI (1913-1994) Three Fragments for flute and piano (1953) [3:48] Andrzej PANUFNIK (1914-1991) Hommage a Chopin (Suita polska) (1949) [10:16] Piotr PERKOWSKI (1901-1990) Intermezzo (Romantic Sonnet) for flute and piano (1954) [5:40] Alexander TANSMAN (1897-1986)
Sonatina for flute and piano (1925) [9:38] Henryk Mikołaj GÓRECKI (1933-2010) Valentine Piece op. 70 na flet solo | for flute solo (1996) [3:35] Henryk Mikołaj GÓRECKI (1933-2010) For You, Anne-Lill, Op. 58 for flute and piano (1986) [9:32] Krzysztof PENDERECKI (b. 1933) Misterioso for flute and piano (1954) [1:51]