Often cited as the most distinguished neoclassical composer of post-war America, Robert Muczynski (1929-2010) was born in Chicago to Polish parents. This album of chamber music surveys an output which is always restless and unpredictable thanks to the embrace of both Bartokian harmonies and structures as well as the more lyrical yet open-ended language of Samuel Barber.
The Cello Sonata of 1968 is often considered to be Muczynski’s chamber music masterpiece, in which the problems of balance and register inherent to the genre are not only solved but transcended with a mastery especially evident in the central Scherzo. From a year later, the Fantasy Trio Op.26 is a welcome addition to the clarinet-cello-piano trio genre established by Beethoven.
Energy and punchy rhythmic interplay are hallmarks of Muczynski’s music, as the earlier Flute Sonata engagingly demonstrates: in its whimsical, abrupt, headstrong progress through a compact four-movement form, it may even be considered the most important such work by an American composer.
Muczynski took technical agility and devil-may-care confidence for granted in his interpreters; in this case, an international quartet of musicians based in the US. There is an extended booklet essay by the pianist Dmitry Samogray which places both composer and works in invaluable context. Any listeners curious to fill out their appreciation of American music beyond Copland and Bernstein will want to hear this release.
Robert Muczynski (1929-2010) was born in Chicago, son of a Polish and Slovak immigrant. At the age of 5 he started his piano lessons, and later studied at the DePaul University composition with Walter Knupfer and Alexander Tcherepnin.
Muczynski may safely be called the most important neoclassical composer of post-war America. His style bears influences from Bartók, Barber, Bernstein and occasional jazz elements.
This new recording contains some delightful chamber for various instruments: the flute sonata, trio for clarinet, cello & piano, the cello sonata, and duos for flute and clarinet: attractive music full of vitality and exuberant energy.
Wonderful performances by Ginevra Petrucci (flute), Dorotea Racz (cello), Gleb Kanasevich (clarinet) and Dmitry Samogray (piano), all four of them seasoned soloists and ensemble players.
The booklet contains excellent liner notes written by Dmitry Samogray.