Opium Quartet

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Poland's young and nattily attired Opium Quartet (the "i" is inexplicably rendered in the design as an ampersand with a dot over it) here presents the works of three composers who are little known outside their native company. One of them, Maciej Malecki, is the father of violist Magdalena Malecka and composed the Polish Suite for the present group. The "return to melody" in Polish music happened before any of these composers came along, but there are distinctive takes on it here. The mixture of elements is what's interesting, with influences from minimalism in both Eastern and Western varieties, Jewish music (interestingly enough), High Romanticism, and what's called highlander music in the notes; this refers ot the folk music of the peoples of Poland's southern mountain region. Aside from the single-movement Orawa of Wojciech Kilar, composed in 1986 and the earliest in the set, the pieces follow a well-worn pattern with a variety of music preceding a zippy, folkish finale. Yet each piece has a different effect. Malecki has been active as a film composer, and his pieces reflect that semi-popular idiom. It is in the Andante and Allegro for solo viola and five string instruments that the Jewish melodic idioms are most strongly heard. A fresh set of pieces, very much in the midst of contemporary trends, yet representative of its own corner of the world.

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