KRZYSZTOF BACULEWSKI (b.1950): String Quartets Nos. 1-4.
Catalogue Number: 06U067
Description: Baculewski's first three quartets were written in consecutive years in the mid 1980s, and mark a consolidation of style rather than a stylistic shift. The first, in a concise single span, is already distinguished by its breadth of expression and the composer's willingness to experiment with the melding of diverse idioms. It falls into sections, beginning with a hushed introduction consisting of little whispered gestures. This is swept aside by a fast, loud rhythmic section, which is in turn supplanted by episodes of canonic and imitative interplay between the instruments. The work ends with a kind of chorale. Throughout the quartets, tonal centers are often strongly felt, but it is a distinguishing characteristic of Baculewski's idiom that the degree of adherence to them is very variable, and even the frankly tonal sections tend to feature a rather abrasive harmonic language. The Second Quartet is more conventionally structured in four movements, and is more expansive and more confident, as though the composer, having thrown everything into the pot in the First and found the result palatable, felt more free to develop ideas in extenso in the Second. The first movement begins with a motoric section, introduced and punctuated by arresting chords, followed by a lively folk-dance passage, with some extended, sonorist timbres inflecting its otherwise tonal idiom. A tiny scherzo fughetta, almost entirely played pizzicato, follows, and then a calm, mysterious slow movement. The finale is a perpetuum mobile in unpredictable but tonal rapid-running quaver motion. The Third Quartet returns to a single span, but in more concentrated and organic form than the first, with more confident treatment of more individual ideas. Tonal centers are more strongly felt here than in much of the First. The first melodic section is dismissed by an agitated, propulsive movement, several 'scherzi' of different character, and a serene chorale. Nearly 30 years later, the composer returned to the quartet genre with his largest essay in the medium, in four movements. The first is polyrhythmic and increasingly complex, the second a melodic dialogue between violin and cello, the third presents three variations of an initial idea, reflective but increasingly animated, then evaporating in flageolet glissandi; the finale begins with glissando 'meowing', after which the bulk of the movement is energetic and folk-tinged. Tana String Quartet.