I have to admit: you caught me by surprise, Larry. My prior experiences with Larry Kucharz’s music have mostly been about quiet, droning electronic structures, with the occasional foray into beats. And while the title Smphncs should have been a giveaway, the appasionato storm of piano notes whirling through the opening of “Elevator Phantasy Waltz” was (to my experience) so unlike Kucharz, I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to follow along. But this piece, and the album in general, levels off into a showcase of Kucharz as a classically influenced composer, working his way through adagios and larghissimos and bringing his electronic viewpoint to each structure. I don’t know that I would rank it highly among my preferred works of his, but there’s much to listen to here. When he shifts more toward the quieter side of things, I find Smphncs more to my liking. “Largo 43 (92 No.03A)” is a lush, droning piece, dreamy and warm. “Scherzo 43” uses light chords to tell its story, a soft touch bringing a string ensemble feel. The 21-minute closing track, “Tremolo 43 (1977 No.07A),” is Kucharz as I like him best, finding a middle ground between a classical structure and an electronic aesthetic. Slow-motion dynamics meet with thick pipe-organ chords, creating peaks and valleys of sound. The quiet moments are pastoral; the passages where the chords take the forefront are stirring. Kucharz masterfully modulates the two sides of that equation, giving the listener a deep place in which to dwell for a while.
Again, Smphncs is not my favorite bit of Kucharz, but it is filled with passages that remind me what I like about his work. He’s been at this a long time, and he’s never been afraid to mix things up a bit. A solid and slightly surprising release from this fine composer.
Available from International Audiochrome.