Notes and Editorial Reviews
Flying Garbage Truck
Lutos?awski Pn Duo;
Warsaw Contemporary Ens;
Przemys?aw Fiugajski, cond;
DUX 759 (49:09)
The music of Agnieszka Stulgi?ska is decidedly different—not only from any other Polish music you’ve ever heard, but even from many other outstanding modern women composers such as Ellen Taaffe Zwilich, Nancy van de Vate, or Laura Schwendinger. Indeed, Stulgi?ska seems to occupy a much more abstract field, one might almost say a niche, in music. The only other woman composer whose music falls into a similar but not identical category is the little-known Barbara Kolb. This disc is titled
Stulgi?ska certainly does occupy her very own chamber!
for instance, is a four-piece suite for two prepared pianos. The music is on the quiet side, but what impressed me on first hearing it was that it sounded like a quiet yet intelligent mind trapped in a maze trying to figure and scramble its way out. The music moves in a swift, quiet undertow of rushing notes, until finally the music reaches a loud climax, you hear the pianists scream, and it comes to a dead stop. Then, after a long pause, the quiet scrambling starts anew, this time in short, jabbing phrases, as if the quiet mind thinks it can get out but is still finding it futile. In short, it’s a weird piece, yet somehow it works!
Despite the use of a chamber ensemble in
the feeling of music that is “out there” (and the use of primarily bright colors and quiet moods) prevails. Here, Stulgi?ska writes for a quartet of instruments that you might use to play polkas with: accordion, clarinet, guitar, and cello (well, OK, so the cello isn’t normally a polka band instrument), but what she does with them is totally unique. Pitching the instruments high up in their range, playing them and their timbres off each other, it sounds at times like computer music, at other times like mice (again) in a maze, and at times like a 33 1/3 rpm polka record played at 78rpm. Again, there is absolutely nothing else like it that I’ve ever heard.
The notes tell us that Stulgi?ska is part of a young generation of Polish composers who are not really a “group,” like the old French
but a community of individuals whose only common thread is that they write music of “uncompromising sound experiments” with a “strong psychological and emotional impact.” In brief, they utilize the play of different timbres “alongside such worldwide trends as multi-media explorations and spectralism.” But I still insist that her music sounds like nothing else. Listen to her two pieces for chamber orchestra,
Once again—indeed, perhaps even more so than in the previous two works—Stulgi?ska creates oddly affecting moods through her use of strange and unusual timbres as filtered through the “quiet riot” of her mind, making sounds that suspend themselves in time and space. You can’t really describe it as ambient music, because it’s too busy and has too much going on to fit that definition, yet it still manages to create its own “space” in your living room as well as in your head. Stulgi?ska then pours into it her liquid sounds filled with sharp little edges. Parts of
for instance, put me in mind of a psychotic version of Dukas’s
No two ways about it, her music is really and truly “out there.”
This all-too-brief disc ends with a flourish, as Stulgi?ska combines the timbres of saxophone, accordion, violin, cello, piano, and tape to create a magical structure she has titled
Flying Garbage Truck.
In the end, the flying garbage truck just crashes and stops in mid-air. What a wild ride! I hope to hear much more of Stulgi?ska’s music in the future. She really knows how to party!
FANFARE: Lynn René Bayley
Works on This Recording
Let's meet by Agnieszka Stulginska
Lutoslawski Piano Duo
Ori by Agnieszka Stulginska
Warsaw Contemporry Ensemble
In Credo by Agnieszka Stulginska
Silesian Chamber Orchestra
Stara Rzeka by Agnieszka Stulginska
Silesian Chamber Orchestra
FGT by Agnieszka Stulginska
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