Friday, May 31, 2013

Kuba Stankiewicz – Kilar (2013)

Kuba Stankiewicz - piano

By Adam Baruch

This is finally the full album (preceded by a teaser EP), which presents one of the best Polish Jazz pianists Kuba Stankiewicz playing his interpretations of music written by the great Polish contemporary Classical and Cinematic music composer Wojciech Kilar. The music is performed on solo piano, the most "naked" of all formats but also the most unlimited one. Kilar, who is unfortunately less know outside of Poland than his contemporaries like Krzysztof Penderecki, Henryk Gorecki or Witold Lutoslawski, is by no means less important and neither is his wonderful musical legacy. His work as a composer of film scores is truly legendary and his music accompanies over 100 films by all major Polish directors, like Roman Polanski and Andrzej Wajda, and also those beyond Poland, both in Europe and the US (for example Francis Ford Coppola). Although a modernist, Kilar's music is full of romanticism and lyricism, and his sublime sense of melody is second to none.

This album includes twelve compositions by Kilar, ten of which are from film scores and the remaining two from TV serials. Stankiewicz treats Kilar's music with a lot of respect and obvious love. The relaxed and delicate interpretations are full of charming moments, where the improvisations move out and return to the melodic theme. Stankiewicz has a wonderful touch on the piano, which sounds full-bodied and expressive even at a low volume. The overall effect is simply delightful. I especially admire the pianist's humility and modesty which are the predominant features of his approach to the music. He firmly leaves the focus on the amazing compositions, taking only very limited liberties with the original notes and making his personal input subtly concealed, exposed only to the sensitive listener. Contrary to many other Jazz pianists, who often like to dominate their interpretations of other composers' music with their own statements, Stankiewicz simply serves as a vessel bringing Kilar's music to a new audience.

Following decades of Polish Jazz musicians obsessively interpreting the music of Frederic Chopin and Krzysztof Komeda, it's truly refreshing to hear some musicians turning the attention to other great Polish composers, like the sensational "Experiment: Penderecki" released recently by pianist Piotr Orzechowski or the new album by the superb RGG trio performing the music of Karol Szymanowski. This music is very different, but also very interesting and no less challenging intellectually. An absolute must to all piano, solo piano and Jazz-Classical Fusion listeners everywhere. This is a heartwarming piece of music, which is a balsam to the ears, weary from the noise that surrounds us all.

This album was released on a new Polish Jazz record label, called V Records, steered by the producer Adam Domagala. I look forward impatiently to hear the future releases by this label and in the meantime wish the best of luck with this admirable project to both maestro Stankiewicz and his producer.

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