RON BIERMAN explores Skrowaczewski's world
Stanislaw Skrowaczewski is best known as a conductor. He replaced Antal
Dorati at the Minneapolis Symphony and served another long stint with the
Hallé Orchestra. He was a child prodigy as both pianist and composer,
producing his first symphonic work at the age of seven. The three pieces
on this disk are compositions for chamber groups. They sound contemporary,
but never stray far from conventional tonalities and rhythms. If this disk
is indicative, his music is becoming more abstract as he grows older. The
program is in reverse chronological order and so increases in immediate
emotional appeal as it unfolds.
Musica a Quattro (1998) is for violin, viola, cello and clarinet.
The melodic material on which all five movements are based appears in the
first. The themes are relatively short in length and it takes some effort
to keep track of how they are used and developed. The work becomes clearer
with repeated listening. The clarinet blends beautifully with the strings.
Skrowaczewski makes especially good use of the instrument's lower register
and there is an effective mix of ensemble and solo work. This excerpt from
the first movement provides a feeling for the entire piece [listen
-- track 1, 2:17-3:12].
The String Trio (1991) is also in five movements. The composer here plays
with the sounds of particular intervals as much as complete melodies. The
concluding Furioso is perhaps the most conventional sounding movement
on the disk [listen -- track 10, 1:57-2:48].
The Fantasie per sei (1988) in two movements features the largest
ensemble, adding oboe, piano and contrabass (rather than a second violin)
to the string trio. The work includes longer, more immediately appealing
melodies than the first two. The other instruments go along with the oboe's
often melancholy sound. The concluding movement is more mixed in atmosphere,
even briefly recalling the happier writing for oboe by French composers
such as Poulenc. Unlike the first two pieces the Fantasie was recorded
during a concert, but the audience is quiet and editing has removed applause.
Though these are serious and sometimes difficult to understand works,
the performances are so strong that the recording makes a favorable impression
the first time through. The string trio was founded in 1985. Clarinetist
Burt Hara has been a principle player for both the Minneapolis and Philadelphia
Orchestras. Ensemble blends have a sonorous richness and all soloists are
The composer's notes for the album are a solid plus. The entire package
is recommended for all but the least adventurous listeners.
Copyright © 15 March 2003
Ron Bierman, San Diego, USA
BUY THIS DISC FROM AMAZON
Skrowaczewski's World - Chamber Music of Stanislaw Skrowaczewski
568 63'43" 2002 American Composers Forum
Ensemble Capriccio - Chouhei Min, violin, Korey Konkol, viola and Mina Fisher, cello, with Burt Hara, clarinet, Karl Paulnack, piano, William Schrickel, bass, John Snow, oboe
Musica a Quattro for string trio and clarinet (1998); String Trio (1991); Fantasie per Sei (1988)
Record Box is Music & Vision's
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