Friday, February 5, 2016

Poland Abroad Volume 3 - Joachim Mendelson, String Quartet No. 1 - Roman Padlewski, String Quartet No. 2 Simon Laks, String Quartet No. 5 - Silesian String Quartet - EDA Records 2010

Volume 3 of EDA Records' "Poland Abroad" series offers three string quartets by unknown Polish composers. Of the three composers here, only Simon Laks survived the terrors of WW II when he was liberated from Auschwitz.

Eda records launched the "Poland Abroad" series in 2004 in cooperation with Deutschlandradio Kultur following a festival that the Konzerthaus Berlin dedicated to Poland as Germany's neighbor on the occasion of the eastern expansion of the European Union. This large-scale presentation put the spotlight on composers who have largely gone unnoticed on the international music scene and were persecuted or driven into exile due to the political situation (during the partition of Poland, the Nazi occupation, and the Communist yoke that followed). Some of them survived the war and the Shoah under dramatic circumstances. 

One such figure the festival highlighted was Auschwitz survivor Szymon (Simon) Laks, whose oeuvre runs through the "Poland Abroad" series like a golden thread. The series features Laks's compositions of every genre: opera, ballet, symphony, concerto, and chamber music. The goal is to highlight the outstanding quality of this repertoire in reference recordings and to encourage listeners to take an interest in two central aspects of cultural history (and not only that of the 20th century): transculturality and transnationality. All of the composers presented here stepped outside of their national context and demonstrated a style that was as individual as it was universal in their engagement with the various movements of the European avant-garde of their time.

On this volume of the series, the Silesian String Quartet (Kwartet Śląski), an ensemble that has made a name for itself far beyond the borders of Poland thanks to its countless world premieres and support for 20th century repertoire – presents first recordings of string quartets by Joachim Mendelson, Romand Padlewski, and Simon Laks. 

Pianist, composer and pedagogue Joachim Mendelson (1897-1943) was murdered in the ghetto of Warsaw in 1943 and his entire body of works, with the exception of five pieces printed by Max Eschig in the 1930s – perished along with him. After sojourns in Berlin and Paris in the late 1930s, the composer returned to his homeland to pursue a professorship at the Warsaw Conservatory and he became active in the Warsaw "Jewish Music Society." His stylistic development rose out of the tension between Polish tradition, the Second Viennese School, and French neoclassicism.  

Born in 1915, Roman Padlewski was hailed as the great hope of the Polish music scene in the generation of Lutosławski and Panufnik. An active member of the Polish resistance, he fought in a special unit and was shot during the Warsaw Uprising, not having even reached the age of 30.

Simon Laks composed his String Quartet No. 5 in 1962, when, after a long composition break following his liberation from Auschwitz and various German concentration camps, he dedicated himself again fully to composition.


Joachim Mendelson: String Quartet no. 1 (1925)

1) Moderato con spirito (5:41)
2) Largo (6:39)
3) Allegro con  brio (3:54)
Roman Padlewski: String Quartet no. 2 (1940/42)

4) Preludium in modo d'una toccata (7:58)
5) Introduzione e  Fuga (19:33)
Simon Laks: String Quartet no. 5 (1963)
6) Allegro moderato (7:09)
7) Adagio molto (5:19)
8) Scherzo, quasi presto (3:05)
9) Allegro giocoso (5:12)

Enjoy everyone


RRadner said...

Thank you for these rare quartets! Your blog is magnificent

Tzadik said...

RRadner, thanks for the comments! Feel free to keep it up :)