Artist: Dariusz Skoraczewski
Title: Cello Populus
Labels: ANALOG arts
Release Date: May 25, 2010
Cello Populus is an intimate set of solo cello recordings, featuring music of the 20th and 21st centuries. The music explores the full sonic range of the modern cello. Recorded during the winter, the album is a labor of love by a busy orchestral musician who set aside some time to reconnect with his instrument.
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Paul Hindemith, Sonata for Cello Solo Op. 25 No. 3 (1923)
1. Lebhaft, sehr markiert [1:46]
2. Mässig schnell, gemächlich [1:38]
3. Langsam [3:43]
4. Lebhafte viertel [0:34]
5. Mässig schnell [2:04]
George Crumb, Sonata for Cello Solo (1955)
6. Fantasia [3:49]
7. Tema pastorale con variazioni [4:28]
8. Toccata [2:30]
Grażyna Bacewicz, Polish Caprice for Cello Solo (1949)
9. Andante-Molto allegro [2:42]
Witold Lutoslawski, Sacher Variation for Cello Solo (1975)
10. Sacher Variation [4:05]
Krzysztof Pendercki, Divertimento for Cello Solo (1994/2000/2003)
11. Serenade [1:57]
12. Scherzo [3:41]
13. Notturno [3:33]
14. Sarabande - J.S.B. in memoriam [3:20]
14. Tempo di Valse [2:38]
Kaija Saariaho, Sept Papillons for Cello Solo (2000)
16. Papillon I - Dolce, leggiero, libero [1:20]
17. Papillon II - Leggiero, molto expressivo [1:15]
18. Papillon III - Calmo, con tristezza [1:16]
19. Papillon IV - Dolce, tranquillo [2:02]
20. Papillon V - Lento, misterioso [1:15]
21. Papillon VI - Sempre poco nervoso [1:20]
22. Papillon VII - Molto espressivo, energico [0:56]
Gyorgy Ligeti, Sonata for Cello Solo (1948/1953)
23. Dialogo - Adagio, rubato, cantabile [3:27]
24. Capriccio - Presto con slacio [3:45]
Solo cello recordings are traditionally avuncular, respectable affairs: the wide-ranging tenor voice of the string section allowed to rumble and coo on its lonesome for once. On this album, however, the listener is ushered in so closely to the instrument that all the glossed over details in typical cello recordings are laid bare. Plucked notes can sound downright thunderous. Overtones that are rarely heard ring as clearly as a bell. Normally, the only one who hears the instrument in this much detail is the cellist.
There is a sense of shared intimacy on Cello Populus, between the listener, the cellist and his instrument. The cellist is Polish-born Dariusz Skoraczewski who currently serves as Assistant Principal in the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. The life of a full-time orchestral musician is a busy one, full of an endless stream of notes, guest conductors and soloists. Dariusz set aside some time this winter to record these pieces, and as he communes with his instrument, alone again, the magic of the cello reemerges. How could some shaped wood and strung metal, scraped with drawn hairs and bits of rosin be capable of such a galaxy of sound?
Many of the pieces on this album explore that very question. The oldest, at 83 years, is the Hindemith Sonata. Here, the cello is not deconstructed as in later pieces, but it is pushed squarely into the realm of objectivity. In this sonata, the cello simply speaks for itself, with a wide ranging set of movements. There is an aria in the middle, followed by a perpetual motion challenge, and an absolutely explosive plucked C# to finish the piece.
George Crumb wrote his Sonata when he was studying in Berlin on a Fulbright fellowship in 1955. It begins in a melancholy mood. The strums of the instrument evoke a late-night creep through darkened streets. A five-note melody finally emerges before unspooling into a rambling monologue.
Crumb clears the paranoid air with a rustic theme and its set of three variations. The sonata culminates in a dazzling toccata, which opens in a hurried ascent to the upper reaches of the cello's chest voice, where the melody of the first movement reappears in a more playful manner. Though the music never lightens entirely, it is significantly unburdened, a perfect warmup for the whimsy of the Polish Caprice.
Grażyna Bacewicz was a gifted performer on both the violin and piano. She wrote many short pieces, such as the Polish Caprice, as encores for her frequent recitals. Originally written for violin, Bacewicz arranged the Caprice for cello, and it begins with a melodic lament that evaporates into a lively dance. The momentum of her Caprice is arrested by the opening grunt of Lutoslawski's Sacher Variation. The composer cobbles together the letters S-A-C-H-E-R in musical code through fits and starts. Paul Sacher was a champion of new music, and the Variation is Lutoslawski's response to Rostropovich's commission for a piece honoring Sacher's 70th birthday. Lutoslawski pushes the cello out of its traditional comfort zone. Instead of sculpted melodies and rhythms, the instrument is tasked with ever more awkward gestures.
Penderecki's Divertimento picks up where Lutoslawski leaves off, pushing cellist and listener further out into foreign terrain. The Serenade begins in the manner of Crumb's Fantasia, but before the cellist can pluck his strings, he has to strike them with the back of his bow. As with Crumb, a simple melody appears, but it quickly becomes clear that Penderecki will not let it develop in the traditional way. The music accelerates and climbs culminating in whistling tones well into the cello's falsetto range. Penderecki climbs down from the novelty of this introduction, and the rest of his Divertimento recalls Hindemith's objectivity. Yet, Penderecki’s cello strays further away from its normal idioms in each movement.
The newest piece on the program takes the freshest look at the cello. The great Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho wrote Sept Papillons in 2000, and it thoroughly investigates the atmospheric potential of the instrument. A series of textures, rather than a conventional development of musical material, Sept Papillons calls for the most extended technique of any of these pieces. Saariaho takes a microscope to the cello allowing the listener to examine the instrument’s acoustic in glorious detail.
The final piece remained unperformed for almost three decades after Ligeti composed it in 1953. Split in two movements, his Sonata begins with an impish plucked glissando.The gesture seems like a wave goodbye to Saariaho's modernism. The lush melodies signal a coda to this retreat into the cello's universe. There is a final nod to virtuosity in the brisk capriccio.Then, the break from real life is over. The cellist's seat in the orchestra beckons.
Listening to Cello Populus with headphones reveals the full spectrum of its sounds. In these recordings, Dariusz has captured the secret inner life of the cello, its woody, spring-loaded nature. Experiencing the album is rather like a pause in a green forest clearing, listening ever closer to the abundance of sounds that are hidden while we are in motion. If you are just still enough, the trees themselves will speak to you. -- Rene Edmunds
As a chamber musician, Dariusz appeared in many chamber music series including the Candlelight Series, Music at the Great Hall in Baltimore and the Barge Music Festival in New York City. In November of 2005 he performed his Carnegie Hall debut, which was sponsored by the La Gesse Foundation. The artist is also a member of a critically acclaimed ensemble – the Monument Piano Trio, who are the artists–in–residence at the An Die Musik Live concert series in Baltimore.
Dariusz is a laureate of various international competitions such as the Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow, the Leonard Rose Competition in Washington D.C. and the Rostropovich Competition in Paris. He was a first prize winner in the following contests: the Young Artist Competition in Santa Barbara, Concerto Competition of the Alexandria Symphony and the Baltimore Music Club Competition. Radio stations in New York and Maryland have broadcast artist’s recordings.
Dariusz began his musical education at the age of six and spent his school years in Warsaw, Poland. He completed his higher education as a scholarship recipient at the Peabody Conservatory of Music in Baltimore and perfected his art under the supervision of the world-renowned cellist Stephen Kates.
The soloist’s repertoire is extremely diverse and includes compositions from Baroque to the 21st century. Besides his solo and chamber music career Dariusz is also the Assistant Principal Cellist of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.