AUKSO – Bacewicz, Penderecki, Kancheli

AUKSO – Bacewicz, Penderecki, Kancheli
Cat. No. CDB044
Music disc: SACD

Grażyna Bacewicz
Krzysztof Penderecki
Giya Kancheli

Andrzej Bauer – cello
Janusz Olejniczak – piano
AUKSO – Chamber Orchestra of the City of Tychy
Marek Moś – conductor

Disc content:

Grażyna Bacewicz
Concerto for String Orchestra (1948)

  1. Allegro – 4’28”
  2. Andante – 4’26”
  3. Vivo – 4’00”

Krzysztof Penderecki

  1. Concerto for cello [viola] and Chamber Orchestra (1984) – 20’19”

Giya Kancheli

  1. Valse Boston for piano and strings (1997) – 20’59”

Total time – 54’09”


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© ℗ 2008 Bearton

Grażyna Bacewicz
Concerto for String Orchestra

The Concerto for String Orchestra was written in 1948, during the second stage of Grażyna Bacewicz’s compositional career, a period in which stylization occupied a prominent place in her music. Her works dating from that period were characterised by distinct form and a preference for sonata structures. This has a bearing on both the first movements of her pieces and on the three- and four-movement cycles, with their traditional pattern of tension and relaxation. The Concerto is a good example of this approach. A masterpiece of neo-classicism, it fascinates with its inventiveness and virtuosic shine and its perfect blend of tradition and innovative timbral, textural and harmonic solutions. In terms of form, the tripartite Concerto oscillates between the Baroque concerto grosso and sonata allegro. References to Baroque music are evident in the use of the concertante technique and linear texture, whereas the classical features are the rigours of periodicity and symmetry and the development of thematic motifs stemming therefrom.

The first movement (Allegro), cast in the form of the early-Classical sonata allegro, develops on the basis of three, diversified themes. The distinctive first theme is based on repeated figuration in oscillating semiquavers. The quasi-lyrical second theme is a polyphonically-oriented dialogue between the cellos and solo violin, whereas the energetic third theme is characterized by syncopation.

The ensuing Andante has a central theme elaborated by successive concertante instruments. It constitutes the starting point and the conclusion of a lyrical sequence of subdued emotion. The musical material in this movement is bound together by both an evolutionary development and instrumental timbre.

The third movement (Vivo) sees Bacewicz exploring music in her favourite mode – as an expression of pure motion, manifested by motivic figures with virtually unlimited possibilities of transformation. The spontaneity of the developing musical material, the constant changeability of events, the refined harmonic ideas (dominated by fourths) and an original timbre of consonances create a colourful mosaic in a musical continuum based on the sonata rondo.

The ever-popular Concerto for String Orchestra testifies to the composer’s stylization skills and her perfect handling of the technical and expressive possibilities of string instruments.



Krzysztof Penderecki
Concerto for Cello / Viola and Chamber Orchestra

This work is unique in the entire history of instrumental music as it has been scored in six different versions. Written in 1983 as a commission from the government of Venezuela to mark the bicentenary of the birth of Simon Bolivar, it was premiered in 1983 in Caracas, with Joen Vasquez as a soloist. In its initial version, the work was scored for viola and symphony orchestra. A year later, Penderecki re-wrote it for chamber orchestra consisting of strings, a wide range of percussion and celesta. The result was a happy one as the reduction of the performance forces did not impoverish the composition. The chamber version has its own, unconventional flavour. It is characterised by balanced sound proportions and has earned its place in the repertoire on a par with the original version. A subsequent stage in the history of the Viola Concerto came with the change of solo instrument. On 15 December 1989, in Wuppertal, Boris Pergamenschikov gave the premiere of the cello version (with the solo part transposed an octave lower). He later performed the work many times, contributing to its popularity. It was Pergamenschikov who gave the Polish premiere of the work, at the Warsaw Autumn Festival in 1992, with Sinfonia Varsovia under the composer’s baton. Six years after the premiere of the cello version, the original Viola Concerto underwent yet another metamorphosis, perhaps the last one, in the shape of the Clarinet Concerto. It was premiered at Colorado Music Festival w Boulder in July 1995.

The present recording is the first Polish performance of the cello version of the concerto with chamber orchestra, an expanded percussion and celesta. Andrzej Bauer is accompanied by the AUKSO Chamber Orchestra under Marek Moś. The Concerto is formally in a single movement. Its structural framework is based on a theme with a nostalgic character, which evolves gradually from an embryonic cell of falling minor second, to appear subsequently in several variants as the work progresses, including a return in the conclusion. A number of sequences can be distinguished in the narrative. They are contrasted in terms of tempo and character (Lento, Vivace, Lento, Vivo, Lento) and constitute successive links in the work’s inner drama. A virtuoso cadenza, appearing each time in a different shape, plays a special role here. The sound-world of the Concerto is highly diverse. The ways of shaping the musical matter are also diverse – expressive cantilenas are interwoven with virtuoso cadenzas, rubato and smooth narrative flow give way to sharply-outlined, dynamic rhythmic motifs, while colouristic episodes rather unexpectedly follow the polyphonic segments. Thanks to his ingenuity the composer blends all these heterogeneous elements into an evocative and coherent whole.

Marek Moś

Marek Moś

Giya Kancheli
Valse Boston

The highly original work for piano and string orchestra Valse Boston was written in 1997, at the time when Kancheli simplified his compositional idiom, whose hallmarks were the use of tonal and modal sequences as well as references to various periods, popular genres and archaic folklore. In one of his interviews, Kancheli quoted Valentin Silvestrov: Music should be so transparent that one should be able to see the bottom and so that poetry could be seen through this space, adding to these words: I do not hide the fact that achieving such transparency in music is of great importance for me.

This message can refer to Valse Boston, a piece which blends highly diverse episodes into an evocative sound landscape. Its distinct character is achieved through strong contrasts: dynamic (from pppp to ffff), harmonic (from simple chords to clusters), textural (from monody, through homophony to refined linearism) and expressive (lyricism side by side with dynamism). The development of the musical material proceeds on two planes: one of meditation and contemplation and the other marked by dynamic expression with a tendency to extreme aural saturation. The former plane is assigned greater importance. It is based on a recurring ‘musical toy‘ theme, which evokes classical or baroque reminiscences, or, to be more precise, which is a brief sequence (recurring motif?) spanning several thirds. This determines the expressive character of the work. Every time this sequence appears ‘the space becomes transparent enough‘ to feel the taste of a certain poetics and perhaps of even something more – the metaphysical aspect of human existence.

Marek Wieroński


This disc brings together another programme in BeArTon’s series ‘Chamber Music of the the 20th and 21st Centuries’ with a 10th Anniversary celebration of the Chamber Orchestra of the City of Tychy (rather confusingly abbreviated as AUKSO). The programme of three works has Grazyna Bacewicz’s Concerto for String Orchestra (1948) and Giya Kancheli’s Valse Boston for Piano and Strings (1996) as bookends for Krzysztof Penderecki’s Concerto for Cello and Chamber Orchestra (1983-1992). These chamber works are a fine display of the sterling qualities of AUKSO, a group of versatile young musicians who certainly join the ranks of the best in Europe.

The irrepressible Concerto for String Orchestra by Grazyna Bacewicz is a splendid piece, carrying on from the string serenades of Tchaikovsky and Elgar. A recent SACD version by the Trondheim Soloists from 2L provides formidable competition, and it is fascinating to make comparisons. AUKSO, under conductor Marek Mos, are significantly faster then the Soloists in each movement. a full 66 seconds so in the final Vivo (5:06 vs. 4.00). AUKSO’s first movement is muscular and energetic from the start, with its main motto theme sounding exultant at the faster pace. The Trondheimers are more relaxed and massive in the beginning, but still rhythmically uplifting. Their Andante slow movement is cool and delicately impressionistic, while AUKSO’s flows ahead in a richly harmonic, exotic-sounding vein. Despite their much faster rendering of Vivo in the last movement, AUKSO never seem to be hasty and display their tight ensemble and virtuoso technique splendidly, whereas the Trondheimers take the time to be more playful and less assertive, relaxing into the lyrical interludes from the solo violin. […]

An immensely enjoyable disk. Apart from the Bacewicz Concerto, there appear to be very few recordings of the other pieces, and it is hard to think that other performances could prove greatly better. I was very impressed indeed with the AUKSO orchestra, and look forward to hearing more from them. Recommended if you would like to explore this rewarding repertoire.

John Miller,
This SACD of three 20th and 21st century compositions features a superbly talented group of 25 young musicians who together comprise AUKSO, the Chamber Orchestra of the City of Tychy in southern Poland.
Marek Moś, their conductor, established the orchestra in 1998 and this disc is issued to celebrate the 10th anniversary of their formation. Although they have made a number of recordings, this one for BeArTon is the first on SACD.

The ‘Concerto for String Orchestra’ by Grazyna Bacewicz has already received what I considered to be an almost unassailable performance and recording on 2L’s recent SACD entitled ‘Divertimenti’ Divertimenti – TrondheimSolistene. However, the newcomer though different, is equally impressive and I would be hard pressed to make a judgement between them. In 2L’s multi-channel recording, the listener is placed in the centre of the orchestra allowing one to hear a clear, if somewhat artificial, differentiation between the string parts. In this BeArTon version, a conventional set-up is used, with the orchestra situated between the front speakers while the rears provide only ambience. The HD-PCM recording is very fine and the acoustic of the Music Academy Concert Hall in Katowice provides a warm, yet clear, acoustic. The main difference in the performance is that AUKSO play all three movements of the concerto considerably faster than the Trondheim Soloists and with a breathtaking virtuosity that is most exhilarating. […]

A high recommendation for this imaginatively constructed programme.

Graham Williams,

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