KRZYSZTOF MEYER (b.1943): Symphony No. 5 for String Orchestra, Op. 44, Canti Amadei - Cello Concerto, Op. 63.
Catalogue Number: 05X009
Description: Yet another in this immensely valuable survey of the prolific composer's consistently fine and approachable output. Canti Amadei is a full-scale, tonal, cello concerto in five movements full of drama, tension, and the kind of virtuoso showmanship common to the best traditional examples of the genre. The work was originally conceived as "variations" on themes by Mozart, but what Meyer did was actually a good deal more original than that; this is a concerto entirely in his own idiom, with no Mozartean pastiches whatsoever, in which the themes are taken from Mozart - in most cases instantly recognisably - but not used at all as Mozart would have done. The sources are many and diverse - symphonies, sonatas, the Requiem - incorporated into a Meyerian, not Mozartean, dramaturgy. The work hails from the years when Shostakovich (on whose works Meyer is a leading authority) was in the ascendant as Meyer's main influence, and his style looms large over the concerto, most notably in the pivotal central slow movement, the dark heart of the work, which is a far from distant relative of Shostakovich's 8th Quartet (especially in its orchestration by Barshai). The Symphony is earlier, from the late1970s, when Lutosławski - Meyer’s other major enthusiasm among earlier composers - was more of an influence, and this is reflected in the music's unusual, often highly dissonant, sonorities (stopping short of the extended techniques of Sonorism, however), and conglomerate, lapidary textures, frequently reminiscent of the older composer, overlain on an underlying tonal basis. Although the structure of the work has little to do with traditional symphonic form, it is entirely "symphonic" in its argument and inexorable progress toward the final playing-out of its dramatic journey in the large finale, longer than any other two movements combined. The first movement is a restless introduction, gestural rather than thematic. This is followed by a large "Maestoso" movement, which introduces itself with a kind of disfigured grandeur, the music then progressing uncertainly through a dark, unsettling landscape. A sort of recapitulation of earlier material occurs at the end, along with an exposed statement of the work’s main "leitmotif", hinting (very distantly!) at sonata form. There follows a scurrying, insectoid scherzando. At the beginning of the following movement the music’s fabric seems to have flown apart into a swarm of ataxic fragments; later, though, a sustained substrate (based on the "leitmotif") dominates the texture, acting as a powerful prelude to the huge Lento finale. This begins tentatively, lugubriously, and gradually gathers itself into a kind of immensely slow chorale. With more sustained textures come a dramatic increase in tension, leading to an increasingly vehement climax propelled by an outburst of hectic energy. Exhausted, the music falls back into the inchoate shadows of the movement's opening, and the symphony ends in whispering fragments from the solo voices of two instruments. Bartosz Koziak (cello), Polish Chamber Philharmonic Orchestra Sopot; Rafał Janiak.