Kletzki concerto proves a real discovery in FIU’s Polish program

By Lawrence Budmen

Robert Davidovici performed works of Kletzki and Lutoslawski Tuesday night at Florida International University.

The FIU Chamber Players presented a challenging program of works by Polish composers Tuesday evening at Florida International University’s Wertheim Auditorium. Chopin’s late Cello Sonata provided an interlude of calm between an intense, late 20th-century masterpiece by Witold Lutoslawski and an intriguing rarity by Paul Kletzki. Violinist Robert Davidovici, director of the university’s chamber music series, was the impressive protagonist in two major violin works.

Lutoslawski’s 1984 Partita is a searing, emotionally bleak score that blends Bachian formality with avant-garde gestures. The neo-Baroque astringencies of the opening Allegro and angular cross-rhythms of the Presto finale are offset by a deeply moving, atonal Largo of Bergian lyricism.  In two ad libitum sections, the composer instructs the violinist and pianist to play independently without coordinating tempo or rhythm. Originally composed for Pinchas Zukerman, Lutoslawski’s score is a tour de force that stretches the very limits of violin technique.

Robert Davidovici swirled through the score’s high harmonics, playing securely both in the instrument’s upper reaches and close to the bridge. His ample, burnished sound never diminished the performance’s torrential drive and power. Kemal Gekic superbly partnered Davidovici, assaying the knuckle-busting piano line with urgency and commanding technique.

Gekic likewise reveled in the grand flourishes of Chopin’s Cello Sonata, his final major score. Whether channeling the Lisztian speed of the Scherzo or the flowing melody of the Largo, Gekic proved a Chopin player of sensitivity and interpretive flair.

Cellist Iris van Eck, a veteran South Florida chamber and orchestral player, was most successful in the sonata’s inner movements, with a lightly accented Scherzo and spacious Largo. She seemed to be struggling with the technical demands of the opening and closing movements, which were not aways in coordination with Gekic.

Paul Kletzki

A distinguished conductor of the 1950s and 60s noted for his eloquent Mahler performances, Paul Kletzki was a rising composer in the years between the two world wars. His Violin Concerto, written in 1928, mixes the bittersweet lyricism of Prokofiev’s two violin concertos with the heated romantic twilight of Schoenberg’s Verklarte Nacht. Touches of gypsy fiddling, Spanish languor and impish wit interrupt the Neoclassical vigor of the finale. The gleaming interludes for solo violin and woodwinds are particularly ear-catching. A well crafted, compact score with a daunting solo line, the Kletzki concerto deserves more frequent revival.

Davidovici, who gave the work’s American premiere five years ago in New York, brought full-throttle virtuosity and passion to a score he clearly relishes. A few horn burbles aside, Grzegorz Nowak drew secure and vibrant playing from the FIU Symphony Orchestra.

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Wed Sep 12, 2012
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