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By Bold City Contemporary Ensemble, Nathan Aspinall, Piotr Szewczyk, and Trio Solis. By Piotr Szewczyk. Classical. CD. Navona Records #NV6093. Published by Navona Records (NX.NV6093).
Item Number: NX.NV6093
When appraoching his latest chamber album Bliss Point, Polish-born violinist and composer Piotr Szewczyk turned to a unique lens of inspiration - food science. His interpretation of a ""bliss point"" in the culinary sense embodies the technique's saturation ofa flavor just before the poitn of diminished potency. Of course, he trades in the contents of his spice cabinet in favor of diverse instrumental pairings, and in doing so, the composer explores the ""saturation limits in teh full spectrum of emotions, textures, and characters."" In doing so, Szewczyk is confident that the resulting collection of chamber works ""covers the entire expressive range of my vocabulary and artistic sensitivity."" Naturally, Szewczyk's violin stylings are included in this spectrum, as he appears on nearly all the album's compositions. He keeps true to his stated inspirations on Bliss Point and exemplifies these goals on the title track. Accompanied by clarinet, cello and piano, the violinist leads the quartet through a set of intertwined sections that stakly differ in their pacing. An ostinato bookend aids in structuring the piece, opening with a gentle pulsation and closing with tranquility after a midsection of contrasting instrumental textures. Contrasting moods also appear on the album's first two mixed ensemble pieces. The four shot, ever-shifting movements of Twisted Dances are brought alive by oboe, violin, cello and piano, and the scattered themes of Images from a Journey - which retains the same instrumentation save for a flute replacing the oboe - range from explorations of darkness to a similarly dance-inspired movement based on gypsy performers. These ensembles are only a sample of Szewczyk's use of contrast on teh album, with a strong example arrivign on Piano Trio No. 1's bricolage of disparate movements. The composer cycles through passages of intense, rhythmic virtuosity; then meditative jazz piano obscured by melancholic tendencies; and lastly, an explosive finale with unbridled energy as its ignition. His vibrant writing for strings echoes this trend as well, including the viscous, atonal sonorities of a string quartet in the octatonic scale on Half-Diminished Scherzo and the fury of a lively string trio on the appropriately titled Furioso. These types of musical personification all exhibit the itnense imagery of Szewczyk's compositions. Even without knowing the title of Very Angry Birds, the way the violinist's extended techniques glide over propulsive piano chords will prompt listeners to point their imaginations skyward. This tendency also holds true for the composer's dialogue between instruments, such as the furious battle of violin and viola on Conundrum and the marital themes of Nimbus, which tests the polarity of wedding vows with passages full of both joy and bickering.