Skrowaczewski's World

Performed by Ensemble Capriccio

Chouhei Min, violin

Korey Konkol, viola

Mina Fisher, cello


Chamber music of Stanislaw Skrowaczewski


String Trio (1991) 21:52

I.              Misterioso 6:32

II.            Adagietto 5:07

III.          Scherxando 3:04

IV.          Adagio amoroso 4:06

V.            Furioso 3:03


Musica a Quattro for string trio and clarinet (1998)

I.              Esitante, rapsodico

II.            Presto

III.          Cadenze capricciose

IV.          Presto tenebroso

V.            Adagio


Fantaisie per Sei

I.              Introduction — Adagio, Allegro

II.            Adagio

III.          Presto



Chamber music of Stanislaw Skrowaczewski


String Trio

Ensemble Capriccio commissioned Stanislaw Skrowaczewski to write String Trio in 1991.  In this work Skrowaczewski follows traditional, classical principles to horizontally and soloistically expose each instrument.  At the same time, he sought to bind the three parts by vertical chords and harmonies, and with sharp rhythmic patterns that demand perfect synchronization.  Harmonically, each movement has one or more melodic groups or themes.  Patterns of certain intervals reflect Skrowaczewski's obsession with the interplay of augmented fourths with perfect fourths, diminished ninths and sevenths, etc.  These patterns are repeated in all five movements.  The titles describe the musical character of each movement.


Musica a Quattro is written for Ensemble Capriccio with all my imagination spurred not only by the wonderful technical skills of the four musicians, but also by their extraordinary musicianship, sensitivity, and beautiful tone.  Adding the clarinet to the string trio allowed me to juxtapose, with delight, the low register of the clarinet with its analog in the viola, and its upper register with the violin.


The work begins with exposing the main theme by the strings.  This theme and its intervals are repeated later, eventually with certain changes, in all five movements.  Also, these main intervals are subsequently used in the entire work as sort of "building bricks" for all melodies, harmonies, and their permutations, which, in my opinion, gives a certain unity to the work in spite of a quite different character in each movement.


I hope that the titles of each movement will describe well the changing "mood" of this music.



Musica a Quattro was commissioned by Ensemble Capriccio in honor of Stanislaw Skrowaczewski's 75th birthday year, and to welcome Burt Hara back to the Twin Cities after his year as principal clarinet of the Philadelphia Orchestra.  The commission was funded in part by generous contributions from the Schubert Club, Ken and Judy Dayton, and John and Kitty Pillsbury, as well as additional gifts by friends and supporters.


Fantasie per Sei was written in 1988, commissioned by the Atlanta Virtuosi.  This commission came as a result of the (successful) performance of my Music at Night by the Atlanta Symphony.


The choice of instruments reflected my predilection for the sound of an unorthodox string quartet where the second violin is replaced by the contrabass, with added oboe (one of my beloved instruments) and the piano (used here almost as an accompanying orchestra).


Hence the result is many unusual sound combinations.  The work has three main movements played without an intermission.  These main movements have several "inner digressions," nevertheless they are thematically and harmonically interconnected.  Which means here that the entire work uses almost the same musical material — the same, or similar "bricks" (or cells), from which "the house" is built.  The soloistic display of all instruments was also a factor for me.



Ensemble Capriccio, established as a professional string trio in 1985, offers a reguloar concert series in the Twin Cities, as well as touring internationally each summer.  The Ensemble is acclaimed for its excellent programming, fine guest artists, and commissions from regional, national, and international composers.  Its repertoire represents both historical and contemporary string trio literature.

            The trio members are musicians devoted to both the large setting of symphonic music and the intimacy of chamber music.  Min and Fisher are members of the Minnesota Orchestra, while Konkol is Professor of Viola at the University of Minnesota and a frequent performer with the Minnesota Orchestra.

            Ensemble Capriccio, acclaimed for its "emotive, yet polished performances" (Minneapolis Star Tribune) has worked from its inception to strengthen the viability of the string trio by enlarging and publicizing its repertoire.  Central to this goal is a series of four recordings featuring virtually unknown works and newly created repertoire for the trio.

            Its first CD, "String Trio," released on Titanic (Titanic T:231) showcases Stephen Paulus's :Seven Miniatures," commissioned by the Ensemble; "Wave Functions for String Trio" by John Tartaglia; "Around Columbia," by Randall Davidson; and "String Trio" by Stanislaw Skrowaczewski.

            The Brazilian classical label Paulus invited the Ensemble to record two contemporary pieces, "String Trio" by Camargo Guarneri, and "Fronteiras" (for string trio, piano, and bass) by the acclaimed Brazilian compositional leader Veira, which it released together with the Villa-Lobos "String Trio" in March 2002.

            In 1997, Ensemble Capriccio was honored to be the first recipient of the McKnight Artist Fellowship for Performing Musicians.  During the 1999-2000 season the Ensemble was a participant in Chamber Music America's "A Musical Celebration of the Millennium" program and premiered a trio by Judith Lang Zaimont.  The Ensemble has toured internationally six times with its unique repertoire, performing and teaching at a variety of festivals from Finland and France to Brazil and Costa Rica.  Its guest artists have included Lydia Artymiw, Benita Valente. Yo Yo Ma, Sharon Isbin, and many others.

            Ensemble Capriccio has commissioned works alkso from Paul Schoenfield, Laura Karpman, Russell Platt, Mary Ellen Childs, Janika Vandervelde, and Alex Lubet.  Inquiries about any of this repertoire may be sent to Mina Fisher or Kory Konkol at 1111 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis, Minnesota, 55405.



Interior photo of Ensemble Capriccio: Christian Steiner

Chamber works of Mr. Skrowaczewski are published by Boehlke-Bomart Inc.

Produced and digitally edited by Steve Barnett, Barnett Music Productions, Minneapolis.

String Trio and Musica a Quattro were recorded at Orchestra Hall in Minneapolis, Minnesota; Fantasie a Sei was recorded live in concert at the Walker Art Center.

CD mastering: Preston Smith at Perfect Record Co., Saint Paul, Minnesota.


Our thanks to the Minnesota Orchestral Association for the use of the hall.  Our thanks to Steve, Preston, Gail, and Janet for their patience and expertise.  Great thanks to our Board and donors who made this project possible, and especially to Kenneth and Judy Dayton who commissioned Mr. Skrowaczewski to write for Ensemble Capriccio.


Innova Director, layout; Philip Blackburn

NEA and McKnight + logo