JOHANNES BORIS BOROWSKI (b.1979): Bassoon Concerto (Pascal Gallois [bassoon], Ensemble Intercontemporain; Bruno Mantovani), Wandlung (Ensemble Aventure; Scott Voyles), Piano Concerto (Florent Boffard [piano], Deutsches Symphonie Orchester Berlin; Manuel Nawri), Chergui (Ensemble Interface; Voyles).
Catalogue Number: 01Q068
Reference: WER 6412 2
Description: The piano concerto is a substantial half-hour work in three movements, largely not structured like a conventional concerto, though the first movement has something of an expository role, the finale has elements of a quasi-cyclic summing up and reiteration of the questioning aspect of the opening, while the central, shorter movement could be seen as a kind of scherzo. The music is intensely active, with the almost perpetually busy solo part a major component of the dense orchestral texture, rather than a dominant character in opposition to or dialogue with the orchestra, aside from a few cadenza-like passages, mainly in the first movement; the overall effect is more that of a sinfonia concertante than a romantic concerto. Borowski's idiom has little to do with tonality, with the exception of some suddenly consonant gestures or chord progressions, like the one that ends the concerto, before the soloist's enigmatic concluding gesture, or the brass chords that signal the piano's unexpectedly introverted conclusion to the exhilaratingly ferocious first movement. The Bassoon Concerto is rather different; rather than the large, enthusiastically employed orchestra of the piano concerto, this work, commissioned by Ensemble Intercontemporain, is scored for an ensemble of soloists, based on that for Schoenberg's Chamber Symphony. Beginning with enigmatic tapping, like a code or signal, the piece consists of five mov ements in which the soloist engages in heated discourse with the ensemble and various of its members. The movements feel like dramatic scenes, and there is something theatrical about the punctuated pauses and hostile sound effects that confront the solo protagonist. The central movement, with the soloist's moaning multiphonics at odds with a glibly eloquent cor anglé and the sinister tapping of an extended side drum solo suggests a tragic narrative which concludes in the final movement with a Romantic air of resignation in layered fanfares and nature sounds, almost Mahlerian in its somber finality. The two works for smaller ensembles emphasize instrumental virtuosity and constant, almost relentless, transformation; both have somewhat in common with the processes and structures, restless invention and exquisitely judged timbres of Boulez - not coincidentally, Wandlung was composed in honour of Boulez' 85th birthday. 2 CDs for the price of 1.