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Andrzej DZIADEK (b. 1957)
Symphony No. 1 (1996-1997) [19:50]
Concerto for Cello and Orchestra (2014) [22:30]
Magnificat (1985-1986) [27:14]
Adam Krzeszowiec (cello)
Elżbieta Drążek-Barcik (soprano), Agnieszka Wietrzny-Monasterska (alto), Henryk Grychnik (tenor), Czesław Gałka (bass)
National Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra in Katowice/Antoni Wit, Michał Klauza
Choir and Symphony Orchestra of Polish Radio and Television in Kraków/Jerzy Kosek
rec. 1991-2014, Concert Hall of Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra in Katowice; Concert Hall of the Karol Szymanowski Philharmonic in Kraków
DUX 1439 [69:35]

Dux are doing much to promote the music of Polish composer Andrzej Dziadek. It features on two volumes entitled Contemporary Music from Gdańsk, both of which I have reviewed (here and here). Born 1957 in Jasienica near Bielsko-Biała, he studied composition with Józef Świder at the Academy of Music in Katowice. His studies later took him to Vienna and Darmstadt. The recordings date back to the 1990s, except for the Cello Concerto, which is a live airing from 2014. I am not sure why the Magnificat and Symphony have languished in the vaults for so long.

The Symphony No. 1 from the mid-1990s was dedicated to Antoni Wit, who conducts this performance. The fusion of Wagnerian heroism and beguiling lyricism informs the opening movement, which is powerfully arresting. The Adagio is fraught with tension which builds gradually from glowing embers. All the while the music sighs and is visceral in its relentless pleading. Syncopated dance-like rhythms inject some humour into the finale, with Dziadek’s deft orchestration adding to the allure.

The single-movement Cello Concerto is the most recent work on the disc, written in 2014. It opens with an extended cadenza, an eloquent soliloquy, its melancholic utterance suggesting, for me at least, a voice crying in the wilderness. When the orchestra finally enter, the mood is dark, sombre and portentous. Adam Krzeszowiec surfs the undulating terrain of this powerful score with imaginative fantasy and impressive authority. A meditative sound world permeates the entire piece. The recording is live, and the balance struck between soloist and orchestra is copybook.

Dziadek completed the Magnificat for his diploma in 1986, and it was premiered two years later. In 1991 this recording was made with the same conductor, Jerzy Kosek. In it, the composer salutes the Baroque tradition and, more specifically, J. S. Bach. It is an intensely personal canvas, rich in Romantic leanings, deeply expressive and soused with radiant lyricism. Yet it has its sharp edges. The composer has divided St. Hieronymus’s text into five sections with a Gloria Patri added. There is striking diversity of musical material, a panoply of orchestral textures and manifold expressive devices. The soloists, without exception, are excellent, as is the orchestral playing under Kosek’s inspirational direction. The choir are well-rehearsed, and one cannot fail to be enamoured by the endearing warmth of their ensemble. No texts are provided.

There is so much to savour here, and I am pleased to have been given the chance to delve deeper into the Dziadek oeuvre. I am won over by the Magnificat, and I will be spreading the news amongst my friends about this magnificent choral score.

Stephen Greenbank

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