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Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Krzysztof Meyer, Piano Quartet, Piano Quintet

One of the huge benefits of doing my music blogs is of course the chance to discover musical voices new to me and to pass that news along to my readers. In the past several years, Polish modernist Krzysztof Meyer (b. 1943) has been among the most important. His music is thoroughly crafted, inspired and inspiring. I do not know his symphonies as yet but his chamber music is essential listening. I covered earlier a volume of his complete string quartets that Naxos has put out and also a CD of his piano works. (Type "Meyer" in the search box above to see those reviews.) Encouraged by those happy encounters I turn to another one, the Piano Quartet, Piano Quintet (Naxos 8.573357) that just came out.

The Silesian String Quartet and pianist Piotr Salajczyk team up for these two works and do so impressively. The music is by no means an easy thing to play but the performances are flawless and shaped nicely as spirited totalities.

Meyer studied in his student days with Penderecki and Nadia Boulanger, and he has gone with their inspired advice to make something quite original of himself. The two works represented on this release have condensed intensity along the lines of later Bartok, Carter and beyond, rarified excursions into advanced form and overall musical momentum of great impact. The "Piano Quartet" is from 2009 and enjoys its first recording here. The "Quintet" is from 1991 and requires a good 40 minutes to unfold in a sort of grand tradition. Both have a seriousness of purpose and a heroic sort of gestural sublimity.

Whether utilizing dodecaphonic serial, aleatoric or other post-1945 composition techniques, Meyer seeks to realize a special personal vision with each of his works. As you hear the music you think less of the means by which each has been created, the ladders enabling Meyer to climb upwards into creative soundings, and more of the musical rooftops he has chosen to occupy. This is very much true of the Quartet and Quintet.

I have now listened to this disk pretty intently five times, and each listen has given me increasing understanding and appreciation of what Meyer has set out to accomplish. The disk is essential listening for those who wish to experience high modernist chamber music in full originality, full flower. Meyer is important! Hear this music with concentration and you will be taken to very good places.

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