ZYGMUNT KRAUZE (b.1938): Piano Concerto No. 1 (Zygmunt Krauze [piano]), Violin Concerto (Konstanty Kulka [violin], Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra; Tadeusz Strugala), Fête galante et pastorale, Suite de danses et de chansons (w/Elżbieta Chojnacka [harpsichord]).
Catalogue Number: 02R043
Description: All these works share, to a greater or lesser extent, elements of Krause's preoccupation with Wladyslaw Strzeminski's theory of Unism, the idea that the whole of a work of art is contained in its every gesture; in musical terms this produces an unique version of minimalism. In the piano concerto, the orchestra produces a dense fabric of subtly varying texture and density, the aural equivalent of one's attention slowly traversing the surface of a color field painting. The piano's gleaming strands of material stand out from this surface, but are composed of repeating or similar gestures with limited development or contrast, at least until the final section, which sounds suspiciously like a grand, exultant finale and thus doesn't fit the unistic model at all. The foreground material is consonant, consisting of streams of single notes and simple intervals, and the background often is, so the piece never sounds aggressively modern or unapproachable. Fête Galante was assembled by the composer from spatially divided installation-specific music, for an unusual combination of modern orchestral and popular, and folk instruments (with a solo harpsichord). The material varies between intentional kitsch, baroque and romantic pastiche, folkish-sounding naivété and sonorous sound effects (exploiting the different tunings of the various types of instruments), all in repeating gestures, and mostly very tonal. The rich sonorities and overlapping, swirling loops of sound that open the 1980 violin concerto immediately suggest the 'spiritual minimalism' of Pärt and the 'new spirituality' composers. When the soloist enters, though, the florid, Balkan folk-derived melody brings Enescu to mind. The piece continues in a more Romantic, expressively varied idiom than the other works here, with considerable emphasis on the solo violin, often playing unaccompanied; while retaining elements of the repeating, static structures of Unism and Krause's distinctive orchestral textures, this is a more traditional concerto, a strikingly colorful work and arguably one of the composer's most instantly appealing. The nine-movement Suite de danses again features solo harpsichord and Baroque- and folk-derived material, in the repeating, development-free tonal gestural textures of Unism. Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra; Wojciech Michniewski.