The music recorded here represents a selection of my chamber music output in different instrumental mediums. I am also playing violin in nearly all of the works on this album, which gives me the ultimate fulfillment as a musician: to merge the creator with the interpreter. The title of the album, Bliss Point, is taken from my quartet for violin, clarinet, cello and piano. The term refers in food science to a satisfying saturation of a flavor, where adding any more would diminish its potency. I applied this idea to music by exploring the saturation limits in the full spectrum of emotions, textures, and characters. The title coincidentally works for the whole album as the music presented here covers the entire expressive range of my vocabulary and artistic sensitivity.
I would like to thank all the wonderful musicians on this recording; it was truly a great team effort: The Bold City Contemporary Ensemble, and Trio Solis. I would like to thank Jeff Alford for his audio engineering and editing expertise. This recording was funded by a Kickstarter campaign, private donations from a fundraiser concert, and my own contribution. I would like to thank all 55 Kickstarter backers and would like to recognize the highest donors: Dr. Coda HT Pan with Vivian C. Pan, Hugh Tobias, Galeen Dean Peiskee, Sr., and Kevin Chase with Ileana Fernandez. I would like to thank Ruth Conley for the highest offline donation and all who donated during our fundraiser concert. I would like to thank Laraine Humbert from Hendricks Baptist Church, and Lynne Radcliffe from St. Paul’s by-the-Sea for renting us their churches for rehearsals and recordings. And finally, I would like to thank all my former violin and composition professors and mentors who always encouraged my dual pursuit of violin performance and composition, which came to a full fruition in this album.
Twisted Dances for Oboe, Violin, Cello, and Piano (2012) consists of four short dance movements. Each traditional dance form is twisted in a different way. Descriptive movement titles give listeners hints. This work was the 1st Prize Winner of the 2014 American Prize Competition, Winner of the 2014 Shuffle Concerts Competition, and a National Finalist of the 2012 Rapido! Composition Contest.
Conundrum for Violin and Viola (2004) explores the dialogue and conflict of two closely related instruments. Starting with a slow introduction, it develops into a furious battle, and finally reconciling at the end.
Piano Trio No.1 (2010) is set in three contrasting movements: Aggressive, Dark and Energetic. The first movement is virtuosic, frenzied, and rhythmically driven; the second is a darkly melancholic, jazzy meditation; the third is an energetic, emotionally charged finale. This work won the 1st Prize at the 2014 American Prize Competition in Professional Chamber Music Category.
Half-Diminished Scherzo for String Quartet (2004) is set in a single fast-slow-fast movement, the fast sections are explorations of an octatonic scale, and the slow section uses dense, atonal sonorities for contrast. This work was awarded 2nd Prize at the 2004 ACCENT Competition at Music X Festival at University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music.
Images from a Journey for Flute, Clarinet, Cello, and Piano (2010) is set in four contrasting movements. The first explores scattering of light through a prism; the second is inspired by the phenomenon of our eyes adjusting slowly to the darkness and noticing more details; the third explores our fear of darkness; the fourth imagines a scene of gypsy dancers taking over a ballroom. This work was the 1st Prize Winner of the 2015 Flute New Music Consortium Composition Competition and a Southeastern Winner of the 2010 Rapido! Composition Contest.
Furioso for String Trio (2009) explores the idea of expressing fury in different contexts and characters. It starts with a bouncy groove and develops through a series of harmonically, texturally, and emotionally contrasting sections. This work won the 1st Prize at the 2011 Third Millennium Ensemble Composition Competition.
Very Angry Birds for Violin and Piano (2012) explores imaginary bird calls through various extended violin techniques superimposed over aggressive and propulsive textures in the piano.
Nimbus for Two Violins (2011) was commissioned by Anna Genest and Dr. Simon Shiao, both virtuoso violinists who are married to each other. In this piece I explore interaction of two equals, as if partners in marriage, and their various emotions; from tenderness through joy, to bickering and fury. The title refers to a cloud, bringing symbolism to the narrative, as clouds can bring peaceful beauty and unrelenting fury. This work won Honorable Mention at the 2012 American Modern Ensemble Composition Competition.
Bliss Point for Violin, Clarinet, Cello, and Piano (2013) was commissioned by Atlanta Chamber Players and is my largest chamber work to date. In three large interconnected sections (fast-slow-fast), it explores saturation points of various emotions, textures, and characters. In a large arch structure, it starts with a gentle, pulsing ostinato, and progresses through a gamut of contrasts, dissolving into the peaceful
ostinato at the end, all energy spent.
- Piotr Szewczyk
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