FourTune: Polish Flute Quartets of K. Meyer, Slowinski and Penderecki


FourTune is an ensemble of excellent Polish musicians who have put together a terrific program of later 20th-century Polish music for flute and string trio. The flute is clearly the soloist in Krzysztof Meyer's Capriccio per sei strumenti, written in 1987 and 1988. The piece is a wonderful study in color, texture, and contrast, with a first movement rhapsody of differently-textured episodes that uses the alto flute, and a second movement that pairs the standard C flute with single string voices. There is a particularly lovely section in the middle of this movement for strings alone. Meyer highlights the dark lower register of the piccolo (which is still high by string standards) in the third movement, and makes intriguing comparisons and contrasts between the piccolo and the violin's E string.

Wladyslaw Słowiński wrote his neoclassical Suita dla Zamku Krolewskiego (Suite for the Royal Castle) with the subtitle “Baroque Reminiscence” (1996) to celebrate the rich musical history of the Royal Castle in Warsaw.

The five movements of his Reminiscense include an alla polocca that recalls the neoclassism of Reger, Richard Strauss, and Stravinsky. There is an aria that suggests colors found in Bach's Cantatas and gently nods in the direction of Poulenc. It is highly appropriate that Słowiński gives his final Gigue a Mazurka-like rhythm.

Krzysztof Penderecki's 1993 Quartet for Clarinet and String Trio is a masterpiece. His transcription for flute and string trio changes the feeling of the piece entirely, but does not compromise its quality in any way. While the clarinet tends to contrast with the strings in the original version, the flute tends to blend with the strings. The strings here seem to enjoy matching the flutist's very lovely vibrato, something that is not possible when playing the clarinet version since clarinetists use vibrato sparingly. Because the flute has a lighter staccato than the clarinet, the Scherzo movement is much lighter and more playful here in the flute version. I love the way the Viennese Serenade movement, written with an ear for Schoenberg's early atonal writing, sounds on the flute; and I find the final Larghetto especially moving.

This is an exceptional recording of unusual and interesting music.

Krzysztof Penderecki: Concerto per pianoforte e orchestra (2001/2002)