Marek: Sinfonia, Op 28; Kletzki: Symphony No 2 in G minor, Op 18

Reviewed on Fri 14 Jul, 2017

Czesław Marek's one-movement Sinfonia (1928) is a strikingly imaginative, often haunting piece well worth grappling with on disc and will handsomely reward the adventurous listener.

Musiques Suisses claim 'first recording' status for the one-movement Sinfonia (1928) by Polish-born Czesław Marek (1891-1986), but in fact that honour fell to the late Gary Brain and the Philharmonia, who set down a big-boned account of it for Koch Schwann over two decades ago. A remarkable creation it is, too, scored for a vast orchestra (including five clarinets, six horns, four trumpets and five trombones), and whose 28-minute span intersperses climaxes on a positively seismic scale with passages of the greatest delicacy and luminosity. It is a strikingly imaginative, often haunting piece well worth grappling with on disc and will handsomely reward the adventurous listener. The same goes for the Second Symphony by Marek's countryman, the composer-turned-virtuoso conductor Paul Kletzki (1900-1973). Another hugely intriguing find, this is a 45-minute canvas dating from around 1926, full of agreeably sincere, sinewy invention and spicy harmonic resourcefulness, the last of whose four movements comprises a deeply-felt setting for baritone of a poem by the Swiss Expressionist Karl Stamm (1890-1919). Both works are most gratifyingly served here under Thomas Rösner's idiomatic, clear-headed lead, and very well recorded in the Katowice studios of Polish Radio. A brave, fascinating coupling.
–Andrew Achenbach