KRZYSZTOF HERDZIN (b.1970): Double Concerto for Viola, Alto Saxophone and Orchestra, Concertino for Reed Trio and Strings.
Catalogue Number: 02U058
Description: Herdzin is an unusually versatile composer, working in different fields (see also 01P084) which he sometimes tries to unite and at others deliberately keeps separate. These hugely enjoyable concertante works belong to the latter category; Herdzin's jazz idiom is entirely absent from these neoclassically constructed, post-romantic, tonal works. Herdzin makes no secret of his influences; mid-20th century France (Poulenc, Les six) and Russia (Shostakovich, Prokofiev). The unusual combinations of soloists could hardly be better used. In both works the perfectly blended instrumental timbres are used very much as a composite soloist, not in competition or dialogue so much ax harmonising, elaborating the same material, presenting a richly textured united argument. The double concerto is a substantial work of considerable stature and seriousness. All three movements are introduced by the same material from the soloists, but of different character. This includes a theme that has to be deliberately derived from D-S-C-H, after which the first movement develops its themes in a vigorous, rather driven sonata form structure. The second movement is a work of unexpected gravitas; over an ominous slow drumbeat a melancholy theme is given out by the viola, to which the saxophone immediately responds, and the development of this theme occupies the whole movement. The drumbeat persists throughout, acquiring accompanying ostinato figuration as it progresses but never relinquishing its solemn tread. The orchestral accompaniment is eerie and foreboding, the soloists' contribution an eloquent lament. The finale is marked 'burlesco', which is apt for its rather aggressive brand of humour. Not for the first or last time in these works one is reminded of Shostakovich's 9th Symphony - boisterous, not entirely friendly and sardonically humorous. The sudden appearance of a couple of bars of a very famous Mozart overture for no discernible reason whatsoever just adds to the slightly twisted sense of fun with which the piece ends. The Concertino is about half the length and lighter in mood, but follows a remarkably similar scheme with many of the same mannerisms. The first movement romps along full of lively gaiety. The middle movement could be a landscape picture by an English pastoral composer; more 'lonely lake in the mountains' than the tragic, tenebrous vision of the double concerto's slow movement. The finale is a strutting march of clearly humorous intent, suggesting toy soldiers rather than any more threatening military force. Katarzyna Budnik (viola), Paweł Gusnar (sax), Cracow Reed Trio, Elbląg Chamber Orchestra; Krzysztof Herdzin.