Stanislaw Skrowaczewski was Music Director of the Minnesota Orchestra (nee’ Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra) from 1960-1979. His performances of the classics including Beethoven, Brahms and Bruckner, as well as 20th century composers such as Lutaslowsi, were known for their architectural structure and over-riding lucidity.
The two Skrowaczewski compositions recorded on this CD exemplify his lucidity as a composer. The Concerto Nicolo’ utilizes the familiar 24th Paganini Caprice for Solo Violin as the basis for this concerto for the left hand of Gary Graffman with the Minnesota Orchestra (C.2003). Almost a concerto grosso for piano, left hand and percussion with orchestra, based upon the Paganini motif, the piece is masterfully composed. The slight Paganini snippet is developed and redeveloped, transmuting it into the musical equivalent of precious metal. The Concerto Nicolo’ should become a major addition to the piano left hand repertory.
Skrowaczewski’s Concerto for Orchestra celebrated the 10th anniversary of the opening of Orchestra Hall, Minneapolis, in 1986. It was revised in 1999, “clarifying and achieving an all-round leaner character that should enable the work to register effectively beyond its original celebratory function.”
The piece is now a showcase for orchestra on the order of the Bartok Concerto. In the second movement Skrowaczewski pays tribute to Anton Bruckner, the composer who had a ” heavenly and overpowering influence” upon him. This is a gorgeous contemporary Brucknerian Adagio, bereft of any excess adornment.
Both compositions receive lovely, totally committed performances. The recording is sumptuous in Reference Recordings’ HDCD format. The acoustic of Orchestra Hall, Minneapolis, is reproduced uneeringly…Warmly recommended.
— Ronald Legum