Saturday, December 13, 2014

Pianohooligan – 15 Studies For The Oberek (2014)


Piotr Orzechowski - piano

15 Studies For The Oberek

DECCA 602547119124

By Adam Baruch

Polish pianist/composer Piotr Orzechowski (a.k.a. Pianohooligan) returns with the annual (third time in a row) display of his musical vision, which hovers above the usual genre definitions, practically ignoring all conventions and boundaries and creates his own unique musical universe. This time the theme of his explorations is the Polish folk dance called oberek, which is the most lively and least restricted of the Polish folk dances and therefore also the most open to interpretation or even improvisation. The album presents fifteen relatively short solo piano pieces, called "studies" organized into five series of three pieces each. Each of the series has its own subtitle and focuses on a different aspect of the dance. The music is magnificently recorded at the Polish Radio's Concert Studio in Warsaw with Ewa Guziolek-Tubelewicz presiding at the console.

Of course in this case, the oberek is more of an inspiration or a point of reference, rather than an actual source, as usual with Orzechowski, whose multi-dimensional compositional concept expands well beyond the actual structure of the dance. Listeners not familiar with the oberek might of course never recognize the subtle references, but that should not diminish in any way the aesthetic elegance of this music in any way, as it obviously has a life of its own regardless of its inspiration.

It would be superfluous to sing the paeans about Orzechowski's talents both as a composer and performer, which have already seen the light of day both in my previous reviews of his work and countless other critiques. In his case, which is very rare indeed, the general acceptance of his virtues is not a sign of blind public hysteria but a true admiration of his qualities. With this album he manages, yet again, to surprise, excite and move the listener, which is probably the greatest gift an Artist is blessed with. All we can do is to express our gratitude.

For the third time in a row an album by Orzechowski is one of the best albums released in Poland in a particular year (2014 in this case), which is simply unprecedented. Chapeau Maestro!

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