SZYMON LAKS (1901-1983): Sinfonietta, MIKLÓS RÓZSA (1907-1995): Concerto for String Orchestra, Op. 17, GYÖRGY ORBÁN (b.1947): Sopra canti diversi, WOJCIECH KILAR (1932-2013): Orawa.
Catalogue Number: 08W041
Description: An attractive, approachable program of fine, substantial works by composers who share Eastern European origins and broadly tonal idioms, individual and inflected by the folk modes of their native environments. Laks' four-movement Sinfonietta is cast in neoclassical style, though with constant harmonic shifts that tease the listener's expectations and testify to the composer’s originality. The apparently straightforward first movement gradually starts to modulate in unexpected directions, the Serenade is both lovely and lyrical, and harmonically slippery; the bouncy scherzo-rondo is delightful as it is unpredictable, and the finale is a sprightly fugue. Rósza, taking a break from film music, sounds very like Bartók, with Hungarian inflections all over the place in his three-movement Concerto, with a decisive first movement that contrasts a brusque first subject with a lyrical second; a night music slow movement; and an energetic folk-dance finale with a humorous touch in the lumbering fugato that introduces the final section. Orbán's delightful pieces are ingenious and inventive fantasias (rather than transcriptions) on folksongs from Transylvania and the surrounding regions. The first is a Rumanian Christmas song which, when it first emerges from its busy, bustling introduction, sounds for all the world like the theme of a Janácek overture. The second is a sad song of unrequited love, its verses forming an increasingly desperate and tragic narrative drama, surprisingly powerful for such a simple tune. The last is a simple love song with a pentatonic melody, elevated by Orbán to an optimistic miniature finale. Kilar's piece is named after a mountain stream, and the work is an attractive post-minimalistic treatment of a folk-like theme, that passes through various landscapes and moods like a minimalist Vltava. Erdődy Chamber Orchestra; Zsolt Szefcsik.