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Andrzej CWOJDZIŃSKI (b. 1928)
Twelve Miniatures for Violin and Piano Op. 15 (1971) [17:41]
Barcarolle No. 3 Allegro molto Op. 99 for Violin and Piano (2012) [1:23]
Small Musical Tales – Nine Miatures for Kids Op. 56 for Violin and Piano [10:46]
Four Polish Dances Mazurka-Kujawiak-Krakowiak-Polonaise for Piano Trio Op. 29 [18:48]
Dariusz Drzazga (violin)
Szymon Krzemień (cello)
Karol Garwoliński (piano)
rec. Lublin, Poland, 2015-2017

The disc was released as part of the Polish composer Andrzej Cwojdziński’s ninetieth birthday celebrations in 2018, but I received it now, too late to highlight his musical achievements in the birthday year. He seems to be a prolific composer, with many works in most categories to his name. He also has some renown as a conductor, especially in his homeland, and as a teacher; he holds professorships in various Polish universities and music colleges. He received the Cross of the Order of Polonia Restituta for his commitment to the furtherance of Polish music.

The four works on this disc could be mainly seen as pedagogical in nature, study aids for his students and young people. They still are highly attractive and at times thought-provoking pieces that will give joy to the listener. The first work is the Twelve Miniatures for Violin and Piano Op. 15, just one example of what he produced for his college students. Ranging from as short as 45 seconds to 3:33, these are short character pieces designed to challenge the student violinist and pianist accompanist. I particularly like the second piece Andante and the fourth Tempo di valse lento, the latter with an expertly distorted waltz theme. Cwojdziński also does not forget the pianist here. Difficult piano writing includes the third piece Allegro, or the staccato section of the Presto seventh piece where the violin and piano are in a frenzied dialogue.

The only stand-alone piece is the short Barcarolle No. 3 Op. 99, composed for Cwojdziński’s daughter in 2012. It which shows that even in his 80s he has lost none of the inventiveness and flare in his music. This is followed by the Small Musical Tales of 1997, nine miniatures for children, teaching pieces as well. They not only depict events of a child’s day, such as a stroll, a hard lesson or a terrifying dream, but are also designed to challenge children of all abilities with a varying degree of difficulty. The opening piece, A stroll, has a skipping theme which is quite catchy. The final piece, Terrifying dream, begins quite ominously and contains some dark passages on both the violin and the piano.

In the final work on the disc, Four Polish Dances Op. 29, the violin and piano are joined by the cello. The four dances Mazurka-Kujawiak-Krakowiak-Polonaise highlight Cwojdziński’s dedication to music of his homeland. Each piece exploits the Polish characteristics of the popular dance styles. A fiery Mazurka is followed by a more tender lilting Kujawiak, but even this builds in intensity in the central section. The Krakowiak begins with a flourish on the violin before the piano enters, and the music becomes faster and more syncopated. The final Polonez begins with the lower register of the cello over low rumbles on the piano before the violin enters. The piece is more swaying than the other three, but still shows the influence of the Polish peasant dances from which the more recognised art dance developed. This is a wonderful addition to the library of works for piano trio.

All the music on this disc is enjoyable and interesting. The violinist Dariusz Drzazga brings out the slight tinges of dissonance (especially in the Twelve Miniatures) very well indeed. The playing throughout this disc is excellent. Szymon Krzemień and especially Karol Garwoliński add greatly to the enjoyment. I only wish the disc had been longer. Cwojdziński seems to have composed music that would have fitted well with the instruments used on this disc. Perhaps the Cello Sonata might have been short enough to fit. Still, this is an excellent and well recorded introduction to the music of Andrzej Cwojdziński, one to sit back and enjoy. Good notes on the composer, a little sparse on the music, but certainly good enough to spark an interest in the man. Let us hope that Acte Préalable will release more of his music in the future.

Stuart Sillitoe

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