Paul Kletzki

My latest CD mini-review for the WRTI E-newsletter:

Paul Kletzki
Piano Concerto, Three Piano Pieces, Fantasie
Joseph Banowetz, piano, Russian Philharmonic Orchestra, Thomas Sanderling, cond.
Naxos 8.572190

I had no idea of the highs and lows contained in this one life. Born in Poland, Paul Kletzki (1900-1973) was a child prodigy on the violin, and then at 15, he was the youngest member of the Lodz Symphony Orchestra. In the Polish-Soviet War, a bullet grazed the skull of this now-20-year-old soldier, coming within an inch of killing him. By age 25, he was conducting the Berlin Philharmonic. He fled the Nazis at 33, his German publisher destroying his works and melting down the plates. Fleeing anti-semitic Italian Fascists and Soviet Communists, at age 36 he was fortunate to find a haven in Switzerland, but with little work. At 42, he gave up composing forever, while trying to cobble together a few conducting jobs into a career.

This CD is a remarkable look through a 20-year window onto the unknown world of Paul Kletzki’s own compositions. Spearheaded by the adventurous pianist Joseph Banowetz, these world-premiere recordings resurrect the Piano Concerto (re-orchestrated since the full score was destroyed), and lavishly chromatic solo works, some of which tantalizingly skirt the edges of tonality. Kletzki’s music is suffused with an air of poignant rumination, and draws us closer to this man trying to find a home during a turbulent time. With the sadness, though, is a confidence that is both moving and winning.

Ultimately, he was known throughout the world as a conductor of deep instincts. He worked with the great orchestras of the world, ending his career as Music Director of the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande. But open the window to his music and enjoy a wider view of this remarkable life.

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