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Classical Music Review

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Bliss Point
Selected Chamber Music


Composer: Piotr Szewczyk
Label: Navona Records
RRP: £13.99
Release Date: 12 May 2017

Polish-born violinist and composer Piotr Szewczyk, releases his latest chamber music through Navona Records. For Bliss Point, Szewczyk turns to food science as lens of inspiration. His interpretation of a “bliss point” in the culinary sense embodies the technique’s saturation of a flavour just before the point of diminished potency...

You can embrace, or totally ignore, the inspiration behind this collection of chamber music from Piotr Szewczyk. Personally, it made no difference to my enjoyment. The tracks are engaging whatever the subject matter behind them - although it is a neat touch that Szewczyk has linked them all to one element, in this instance food science.

Szewczyk’s trademark violin stylings are on display here and he appears on nearly all the album’s compositions. Accompanied by clarinet, cello, and piano, the violinist leads the quartet through a set of intertwined sections that starkly 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 short, ever-shifting movements of 'Twisted Dances' are brought alive by oboe, violin, cello, and piano, and the scattered themes of Images from a 'Journey' range from explorations of darkness to a similarly dance-inspired movement based on gypsy performers.

The album contains 19 tracks (1 hr, 14 min, 49 sec) and there are numerous highlights, depending on your musical preferences. I was rather partial to the four-part 'Twisted Dances for Oboe, Violin, Cello, and Piano'; as well as the moody, film noir-esque 'Piano Trio No.1 - II. Dark'.

The opening of 'Night's Embrace' from 'Images from a Journey for Flute, Clarinet, Cello, and Piano' brought to mind Bernard Herrmann's score for Jason and the Argonauts (1963) (most notably the opening segment of the famous skeleton battle). In addition 'Aggressive' from 'Piano Trio No.1' reminded me of Jerry Goldsmith's work on Gremlins (1984) and the 'Nightmare at 20,000 Feet' segment from Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983).

As a collection, this is wonderfully put together. It represents the perfect balance of tracks. There's not a dull moment here.


Darren Rea

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