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Tracklist: 1. Come Close to My Heart 8:53 2. Solar Eclipse 12:21 3. The Wheel of History Will Never Stop 11:26 4. Hang-Under 8:31 5. People Are Not Worthy of God's Mercy 3:51 6. Freedom 8:12 All music by J. Skrzek. Lyrics by: J. Skrzek (on 6), Paul Drasch (4), Roman Brandstaetter (1), & Julian Matcj (2, 3, 5). Solo Pilot (in flight - live!): Jozef Skrzek (of SBB) - - Great Pipe Organ, - Poly-Moog, Mini-Moog, Micro-Moog; Sony-Six, & - Vocal Produced by J. Skrzek. Recorded live at The Holy Cross Church, Warsaw, Poland.
Prologue. Jozef Skrzek was the leader of the well-known Polish progressive band SBB where he played keyboards and bass and, in addition, acted as a lead singer. This solo album by Jozef was recorded live at The Holy Cross Church in Warsaw in 1983 and is a tribute to the genius of the great Polish composer Frederick Chopin. About two months ago Poland's "Wydawnictwo 21" label released it on CD. I have no idea whether it was ever released on LP or not. According to the CD press kit, the music on this album: "is the combination of Progressive Rock, Organ Music, Electronic music, and Religious Hymns"...
The Album. . ...Which, as it turned out to be, is correct only partly. There are neither elements of Progressive Rock nor those of Electronic music on "The Holy Cross Concerto" CD. Overall, the stylistics of music presented on this album is about a blend of Classical Academic Music and Christian Church Music with elements of Space music and religious hymns. The latter, sung by Jozef himself to the accompaniment of either passages of Great Pipe Organ or those of one of the Moogs, are usually present in the beginning of compositions - just after the intros to them - and cover, on average, no more than one fifth of each of them. By the way, two out of the six hymns, those on tracks 4 & 6, Jozef sings in English, and not in Polish. Before depicting the album, I'd like to mention that the music that is featured on it is of either a dramatic or dramatically lofty character. Which, of course, is more than justified for such albums. To describe the album properly, I should divide its contents into three parts. The arrangements that are present on Come Close To My Heart, Hang-Under, and People Are Not Worthy of God's Mercy (1, 4, & 5) develop constantly. They consist of wonderful and, sometimes, amazingly eclectic interplay between the magic, slow and majestic, passages of Grand Church Organ, virtuosi solos of various Moogs (see details above), and wonderful passages of a virtual string ensemble (which is most likely Sony-Six). In short, I regard the stylistics of each of the said three compositions as a sacred union (trinity?) of Classical Music, Church Music, and Christian Hymns. The second of them, Hand-Under, is especially rich in sound. Apart from the parts of all of the aforementioned instruments, it features synthetic, yet, quite realistically sounding passages of piano and solos of various woodwind and brass instruments. Structurally, the contents of Freedom (6) are in many ways close to those of the three compositions that I've just described. Apart from the passages of Grand Pipe Organ and solos of all three of the Moogs, used on this album, it features the passages of strings and piano as well. The only more or less noticeable difference between those three pieces and Freedom is the presence of a short spacey-like episode with 'flying', echoed, etc solos of one of the Moogs in the middle of it. In fact, though, there are too few episodes of a real Space music on this album. Almost all of the Space music-like arrangements that are parts of both of the remaining tracks, Solar Eclipse and The Wheel of History Will Never Stop (2 & 3), are, actually, of a spacey symphonic nature. There are no any sequenced solos and samples on this album in general and both of these pieces in particular. On Solar Eclipse, the arrangements that are typical for both of Classical and Church Music occupy the first half of it. While the second part of it consists of diverse interplay between the low-tone, slow and dark, passages of Poly-Moog, mid-tempo symphonic solos of Mini-Moog, and fluid, 'flying' and 'ghostly', passages of Micro-Moog. The atmosphere that dominates in the second part of Solar Eclipse is tense, mysterious, and very intriguing. The Wheel of History Will Never Stop begins with arrangements of a spacey symphonic mold, while all the further musical events are here quite eclectic, though, overall, they are in the vein of Freedom (6). The sound of the album is very clear. While listening to it I had the impression that I was hearing a real studio album. And the only applause that is heard is at the very end of the CD as if it confirms that "The Hole Cross Concerto" is, nevertheless, a live album.
Summary. This music is unique and absolutely one-of-a-kind (at least for 'these ears'). It differs from anything that I've heard before, including Classical Music, even though classical textures are dominant on "The Holy Cross Concerto". (True, "concerto" is a musical work of a specific form, and the music on this album is very specific.) Jozef Skrzek is by all means a masterful keyboard player. Otherwise this album would not have such a rich and, often, real polyphonic sound (there are no studio overdubs on it). Highly recommended, and especially those who're into Classical Music and anything innovative that appears from time to time within the framework of progressive music (in general). Great reissue! Finally, I'd like to mention that my rating scale is currently looking a bit differently: no more "satisfactory" albums! Here it is.
- Six stars - masterpiece: ****** - Five stars - excellent album: ***** - Four stars - good album: **** - Three stars - mediocrity: *** - Two stars - weak album: ** - One star - poor album: *
VM. September 25, 2002
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