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Skrzek, Józef: Koncert Swietokrzyski

Polish label Wydawnictwo is in the process of unearthing a few relics; not very well-known outside of Poland to begin with (except to certain fans of Euro-prog), Koncert Swietokrzyski appeared on vinyl nearly twenty years ago, and will have a limited range of appeal, considering its content. Let's narrow this down: you must like keyboards in order to like this recording. You must also be able to enjoy purely keyboards-oriented music (Tangerine Dream and Synergy are too excellent examples). Starting to get the picture? If Józef Skrzek's name does sound somewhat familiar, it's because he's the founder & keyboardist of the legendary Polish symphonic trio, SBB. Skrzek's multi-instrumental abilities came to the fore on later SBB works and a slew of solo/collaborative albums. After a one-off reunion gig in the 90s, the SBB boys decided there was enough chemistry held over to give playing together another try. SBB last toured in 2001; along with original members Skrzek and [guitarist] Apostolis Antymos, ex-Pat Metheny drummer Paul Wertico was onboard, replacing original drummer Jerzy Piotrowski. A live CD of the sixteen-date tour, TRIO: Live—Tournee 2001, appeared months later.

Koncert is a solo live recording from 1983: Józef Skrzek performed on the organ at The Holy Cross Church in Warsaw. He also performed on the following Moog synths: a Minimoog, a Polymoog, a Micromoog, and a Sonic VI, a duophonic portable mounted in an attaché case that was an updated Sonic V (which was created by a company called Musonics, which Moog Music bought in 1973). Of the six tracks, only one is four minutes long. The rest run eight-to-twelve minutes. Expectedly, the organ sections are classical-sounding, but we taste the real meat when Skrzek turns to his Moogs for long stretches of accompaniment-free spacefusion not dissimilar to 70s Tangerine Dream, Klaus Schulze, and Synergy (this sort of territory was also explored avidly on '70s SBB albums — just add drums and guitars, while Skrzek always played basslines on a Clavinet, or Moog). The fat, rich, drones always give way to preliminary structures over which a solo or a quasi-melodic passage on a neighboring synth is played. The long, exquisite Minimoog solo in "Toczy Sie Koto Historii" is just beautiful, and it wouldn't be misleading at all to label it a 'spaced-out' Jan Hammeresque solo. "Zacmienie Sfonica" is one of the best numbers, and one of the most predominantly instrumental (oh, yes, Skrzek vocalizes just a little, but if you're familiar with his voice from SBB, there's nothing to worry about).

That's the gist of Koncert Swietokrzyski — those who prefer formulaic, flamboyant music probably won't make it through a single listen. Those who are open-minded will experience an aural work of art. This was a very personal work for Mr. Skrzek (you'll have to read the liner notes to find out why); he is obviously a very spiritual man. Here's a twist: this concert was intended as a tribute to Fredric Chopín, though one would never guess so based on the music itself!

Added: February 16th 2003
Reviewer: Elias Granillo
Related Link: Josef Skrzek - Official Web Site
Hits: 2891
Language: english

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