MACIEJ STASZEWSKI (b.1984): Concerto for Guitar and Chamber Orchestra, Concertino for Guitar and String Orchestra Concerto for Guitar and String Orchestra, for solo Guitar: Sonitus Noctis, Alcázar, On the Trail.
Catalogue Number: 09V072
Description: Approachable, characterful works by a guitarist-composer who appears throughout as his own more than able soloist here. The concertante works are very different from each other, despite having been written over a period of less than a decade. The Concertino is an early work. It is based entirely on a theme with a vaguely Baroque feel to it; not inappropriately, as fully the first third of the piece consists of canonic counterpoint on this theme and its variants. The soloist joins in, and the melody is now presented with rich chordal accompaniment; this gives way to an extended cadenza on fragments of the theme and one full statement of it, after which the contrapuntal texture returns, now including the soloist. The Guitar Concerto was inspired by the composer’s love of the Polish Tatra mountains. The first movement announces itself with a bracing open-air quality, suggesting the exhilaration of the outdoors. The second movement begins with an evocation of the imposing vistas of the Tatras, then continues as a nostalgic folk-inflected pastorale. The finale initially carries on this mood, with a theme derived from the final statement of the slow movement, but soon becomes determined and energetic, driven by insistent dancing rhythms. The more recent chamber concerto broadens the composer’s range and adds a level of variety as compared to the earlier works. Here the composer’s fondness for quartal harmony and syncopated, irregular rhythms lend a jazzy piquancy to the music, which also plays around with a modest amount of the pitch-bending that Staszewski explores more fully in the solo works here and unexpected silences and changes of character. The finale in particular has an engaging confident strut and an insistent ostinato pulse, decorated by flamboyant guitar figuration. In all three movements the composer’s gift for memorable melody is apparent. In the solo works the composer experiments - a bit - with timbral innovations, scordatura tunings and unusual harmonics. One piece is a set of three atmospheric nocturnes with night rustlings and shadows, one is an homage to the guitar's Spanish background, inspired by a visit to the Alhambra, and the last is a folk-inflected 'postcard from the Tatras'. Maciej Staszewski (guitar), The PRIMUS String Orchestra of the Academy of Music in Łódź; Łukasz Błaszczyk.