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Friday, January 10, 2014

Krzysztof Meyer, Piano Works Vol. 1, Marek Szlezer

A living composer that we in the West should be paying attention to. That's how I feel about Krzysztof Meyer (b 1943), particularly after listening closely to his Piano Works, Vol. 1 (Dux 0923) as played with convincing poise and verve by Marek Szlezer.

Meyer studied with Penderecki and Nadia Boulanger, which is of course an excellent pedigree. I took a look at a recording of some of his string quartets on December 17 of 2012 (see that post) and was impressed.

The pieces heard on volume one of this collection of piano works are mostly from 1961-1966 with one from 2005. They include Piano Sonatas 1-3, "Aphorisms for Piano", op. 3, and the fairly recent "Quasi una Fantasia", op. 104.

What strikes me listening to this music is the highly modern approach Meyer takes, but also the superb idiomatic pianism in evidence throughout. In structure there are the occurrences of signpost motives that remind me of Messiaen, but only as a complementary counterpart. The sound and thrust of the music is original. There is often a certain amount of spatial air to punctuate the phrasing in common with Messiaen, not a radical space like Cage, but more compact. There are dramatic dynamics and a feel of high modernist elegance that puts these works up there with the best.

It is music that no doubt has some daunting technical obstacles to surmount for a pianist to properly express what Meyer calls for. Szlezer conquers all with very musical readings, bringing out the sense and sensibility of the works in a poetic way.

Meyer is a major figure waiting in the wings, or rather already at center stage awaiting your appreciation. This is essential listening for the modernist aficionado.

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