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Wednesday, August 09, 2006

CD REVIEW - Kilar: Piano Concerto

Kilar: Piano Concerto
Naxos 8.557813 (EU)
6 Tracks 68:46 mins

Better known for his film music for both the Polish cinema and in more recent years the international scene, Wojciech Kilar has also written numerous works for the concert hall and this is the second such collection issued by Naxos.
One rather irritating factor in Kilar's concert work is that each piece takes an age to get started, but they are usually worth the wait. This disc commences with 1979's Bogurodzica (Mother of God) for mixed chorus and orchestra, which is a fantasy on the ancient Polish hymn, and has some powerful and quite dissonant moments.
Next up is the centrepiece of the disc, the Piano Concerto from 1997, which draws on such sources as the Catholic liturgy and the piano concertos of Beethoven. The first movement is quite minimalist in nature, with a gently repeating figure becoming bolder before fading away. The second movement is weighty and religious in nature, becoming more ethereal with just solo piano, before reaching a spiritual climax. This segues into the final movement, a fast-flowing Toccata. The pianist on this recording is Waldemar Malicki.
Siwa Mgla (Grey Mist) from 1979 is a vocal tone-poem, with texts derived from folk sources. After a lengthy, dissonant opening the piece can be best described as episodic, with Wieslaw Ochman's baritone and orchestra alternating. It's best moment comes at the half-way mark and features a strong string movement with brass joining to a crescendo.
The final piece on the disc comes from 1976 and is Koscielec 1909, another tone-poem referring to a peak in the Tatra mountains in Southern Poland, where the composer Mieczyslaw Karlowicz met his untimely death at the age of 32. The piece goes through many moods before reaching its climax, starting out suitably mournful, but reaching powerful crescendos, including a very Lord of the Rings-like brass build, which makes one wonder if director Peter Jackson had heard the piece when Kilar was originally named as composer for the first film in the trilogy, and whether the film was maybe temped with some of his music.
Antoni Wit conducts the Warsaw National Philharmonic Orchestra and Choir, with Henryk Wojnarowski, Choirmaster, and the accompanying booklet notes are by Richard Whitehouse.


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