Symphony No.3 (In memoriam)
Concertino for Flute and Orchestra
Sharon Bezaly (flute)
Norrköping Symphony Orchestra
Recorded May and September 2003 in Louis de Geer Hall, Norrköping, Sweden
Reviewed by: Colin Anderson
Reviewed: July 2004
CD No: BIS-CD-1399
Duration: 63 minutes
Born in 1900 in Łódž as Pavel Klecki, we know the Pole Paul Kletzki as a distinguished conductor. He was, in fact, a multi-talented musician. As a violinist he made an early advance, aged 15, into the Łódž Philharmonic, a position curtailed by military service, which meant that he had direct experience of World War One. In 1921 having won first prize in a Warsaw Philharmonic composition competition, Kletzki moved to Berlin and had dual success as a composer and conductor. Being Jewish, Kletzki was then forced to leave Germany; in 1933 he went to Italy. As a composer Kletzki stopped writing after 1942, and he never seems to have exploited his position as a highly regarded conductor to get his music performed. Indeed, of the music on this CD, only the Third Symphony’s slow movement had been performed prior to this recording!
Symphony No.3 was completed in October 1939. Lasting 45 minutes, it is in four rigorously structured movements, heavily contrapuntal, and written with skill and individuality. Kletzki’s tight organisation, and a certain functionality of ideas, reminds of Hindemith. While Kletzki is obviously writing a ‘real’ symphony, he also pours a white-hot emotional content into his methodical plan. Those deeply troubled times scorch the manuscript paper Kletzki wrote on: the first movement is terrific in its searing drive and impact and generates great power and sonic substance. The second-placed slow movement, played in Paris in 1946, is more consolatory and seems stained with sombre memories. A sardonic wit emerges in the scherzo, and the work ends defiantly.
Although a piece of its times, there is no doubting Kletzki’s careful and skilful integration of world events and timeless musical forms. Dense and complex this symphony may be, but it is also lucidly revealing of purely musical processes and there is also no filtering of direct intensity, energy and emotion.
The Flute Concertino is altogether lighter, and deftly written. Transparent textures, the flute the amiable leading voice, gentle lyricism and buoyant rhythms add up to an expressive and untroubled work that belies its year of composition, 1940.
The performances and recording are wholly admirable, as is the extensive booklet note by Timothy L. Jackson. Kletzki, who died in 1973, wrote four symphonies. Are they all to be recorded? I have previously heard either No.2 or No.4 (I can’t remember precisely but it is distinguished by the finale including a baritone solo) and was very impressed. There are also concertos for violin and piano. Hopefully this isn’t a one-off Kletzki release.