David's Review Corner
, September 2009
Born in 1943 in Krakow, a pupil of Penderecki and Nadia Boulanger, Krzysztof Meyer has become one of the most prolific string quartet composers of his generation. Between 1963 and 2005 he has composed twelve, starting out in experimental and unconventional sound colours, and progressing, in his own words, to his ‘homeland in the chamber music of the Viennese Classic extended by the most splendid of twentieth-century musical worlds—Bartok’s”. Like his mentor, Penderecki, he has slowly put behind him those excesses of modernity that use atonality as its sole objective. You will be a dedicated modernist to easily come to terms with the Fifth from 1977, its five untitled movements using sounds to create each movement, the style of the score that of a sinfonia concertante using the cello as the solo instrument. There is an epic shift of style four years later to the Sixth, small motifs constantly recurring, but in a changed format, offering the observant listener a constant fascination. If that game does not grab you, the score is highly attractive, particularly the second movement Presstissimo, where we find Bartok inspired ideas. The Eighth comes four years afterwards, a work in direct descent of Penderecki, the massive challenges to the quartet more readily evident. It is unusual in being created from five movements of similar length, Do start at track 6—the opening of the Sixth—and work your way outwards from there to give an easy access to Meyer’s style. Without seeing the scores I will take the performances from the Wieniawski String Quartet at face value. It was formed in Poland in 1998 and has created a place among the nation’s leading ensembles. Certainly you have that feel of deep commitment to Meyer and they are very well recorded.