Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

9

Mateusz Smoczynski: Metamorphoses

Ian Patterson By

Sign in to view read count
Though violinist Mateusz Smoczynski has played with the likes of Tomasz Stanko, Branford Marsalis, Joachim Kuhn and Anna Maria Jopek, he's perhaps best known internationally for his four-year stint in Turtle Island Quartet and, currently, Atom String Quartet. With the latter, Smoczyński recorded Seifert (Zbigniew Seifert Foundation, 2017), its brilliant tribute to violin virtuoso Zbigniew Seifert. Seifert's shadow looms large again here, not least because this recording is a direct result of Smoczyński winning the 2nd Zbigniew Seifert International Violin Competition in 2016. Seifert's Solo Violin (EMI, 1976) is, to a degree, a reference point, though Seifert's embrace of folk, classical and jazz idioms, which likewise runs through Metamorphoses, is less seamless, and more compartmentalized in Smoczyński's case.

Throughout Smoczyński places emphasis on the emotional weight within each piece, with displays of virtuoso bravura all the more effective due to their rationing. From the impressionistic opener "Dorothy's Dream," the use of layered tracks is a recurrent feature, with repeated motifs serving as launching pads for Smoczyński's improvisations. Multiple voicings work to notable effect on the Prince-like "Manhattan Island," where a funk riff and a second, scurrying rhythmic pattern, underpin Smoczyński exhilarating flight. Likewise, a strong rhythmic line runs through the country-romp "The Farmer," as the violinist again dazzles with his beautifully fluid phrasing.

Folk flavours of distinct hue surface on "Julie-O" and "The Old Tune." The former—penned for solo cello by former Turtle Island Quartet colleague Mark Summer—is a delightful, Irish-tinged air, with pizzicato rhythm and plucked melody alternating with Smoczyński's sumptuous lyricism. The latter, by way of contrast, is a ballad of Slavic character, with an emotional tension running through the sweetly melancholic improvisation. The purity of Smoczyński's tone shines forth in his soloing on "Up-Down," while finesse is key on the hauntingly tender "Zakopane." Dramatic, the riffing and tumbling glissandi of the urgent "Dragonfly"—an album highlight.

The centre-piece of the album, however, is the four-part "Violin Sonata No. 1 Metamorphses," arguably Smoczyński's most personal statement. The sombre first part, "Prayer" conjures the stillness and heavy atmosphere of an airless day. Part two, the restless "Lament," is laden with inner turmoil. Part three, "Mantra," as the title suggests, has a repetitive form and strong echoes of Seifert. Part four, "Confession," is a tense affair, flowing with a dramatic energy that resolves with an almost comic, plucked note. In the sonata's ten minutes or so, Smoczyński conveys an impressive range of moods, and it's this emotional heft, over and above his technical brilliance, that most impresses.

With "Midnight Psalm" the album ends with an overt nod to Seifert; Smoczyński's recurring motif and improvisations are a direct response to Seifert's similarly constructed "Evening Psalm." It's a finale as heartfelt as it is reverential.

Strong compositions and excellent playing ensure that Smoczyński's Metamorphoses is an engaging listening experience from start to finish. Hot on the heels of his quintet's outing Berek (Universal Music Polska, 2017), Metamorphoses adds credence to the notion that Smoczyński is a force to be reckoned with in his own right.

Track Listing: Dorothy’s Dream #1; Violin Sonata No. 1 "Metamorphoses": I. Prayer #2; II. Lament #3; III. Mantra #4; IV. Confession #5; Julie-O #6; Manhattan Island #7; The Old Tune #8; Up-Down #9; The Farmer #10; Zakopane #11; Dragonfly #12; Midnight Psalm #13

Personnel: Mateusz Smoczyński: violin, baritone violin.

Title: Metamorphoses | Year Released: 2017 | Record Label: Zbigniew Seifert Foundation

Tags

Watch

comments powered by Disqus

Album Reviews
Read more articles
Berek

Berek

Universal Music Polska
2017

buy
Metamorphoses

Metamorphoses

Zbigniew Seifert Foundation
2017

buy
Simultaneous Abstractions

Simultaneous...

Tokarnia Music Production
2010

buy

Shop

Start your shopping here and you'll support All About Jazz in the process. Learn how.

Related Articles

Read Absinthe Album Reviews
Absinthe
By Mark Sullivan
March 18, 2019
Read Chi Album Reviews
Chi
By John Ephland
March 18, 2019
Read The Time Is Now Album Reviews
The Time Is Now
By David A. Orthmann
March 18, 2019
Read Road To The Sun Album Reviews
Road To The Sun
By Dan McClenaghan
March 18, 2019
Read Rosa Parks: Pure Love. An Oratorio of Seven Songs Album Reviews
Rosa Parks: Pure Love. An Oratorio of Seven Songs
By John Sharpe
March 18, 2019
Read Hyperuranion Album Reviews
Hyperuranion
By Dan McClenaghan
March 17, 2019
Read Nuevo Valso Album Reviews
Nuevo Valso
By Friedrich Kunzmann
March 17, 2019