More Music of Papandopulo

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PAPANDOPULO: Concertino in modo antico. Fantasy. Lyrical Trio. Rapsodia Concertante. 3 Movements for Orlando / Amaury Coeytaux, Vanessa Szigeti, vln; Andrei Ioniţă, cel; Oliver Triendl, pno / CPO 555 106-2

It really does amaze me how many superb composers whose work I now review on a regular basis I had no idea even existed 15 years ago, the most notable being Mieczysław Weinberg and Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji but also such names as Erwin Schulhoff, Alexander Tansman, Hans Winterberg, Karol Rathaus, Nikolai Kapustin, Tibor Harsányi, Nikos Skalkottas, Thomas de Hartmann and our subject here, Boris Papandopulo.

Since I was not provided a booklet with this release I can’t tell you the genesis of these works or when they were written, but although they are among Papandopulo’s lighter works, not quite on the same exalted level as his Piccolo, Xylophone and Harpsichord Concerti, his Piano Concerto No. 3 or his 5 Orchestral Songs for Baritone, they still exhibit a high level of craftsmanship and merit your listening. In an earlier review, I described some of Papandopulo’s music as combining “elements of folk music—particularly its strong rhythms—with an almost Baroque style of continually fast, virtuosic passages with modern harmonies,” but in the Concertino it is only the third-movement “Tarantella” that fits that description perfectly; yet the two preceding movements have great charm and are not without some harmonic interest.

There is s bit more of this in the three-movement Fantasy, with the first movement showing hints of Russian influence in one of its themes. By the last movement, Papandopulo is using minor modes which gives the music a strongly Eastern flavor. The Lyrical Trio opens with a cello solo which eventually leads into a short fugue before the music develops differently. Yet interestingly, the second movement also opens with a fugue! This is some of the densest and most complex music on this CD, although the Rapsodia Concertante also opens with allusions to Middle Eastern modes and harmonies.

Our four musicians are all superb, not only with outstanding techniques but also with full emotional engagement in the music they play. I wonder, however, if violinist Vanessa Szigeti is any relation to the legendary violinist Joseph Szigeti; that’s not such a common Hungarian last name. Recommended to those who, like me, enjoy Papandopulo’s music.

—© 2021 Lynn René Bayley

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