Concert within the framework of the 18th Festival „Music Gardens”

Can something as subtle as a waltz be the cause of a terrible conflict? It turns out that yes, the idea of composing “poème chorégraphique” – La Valse, a reflective impression on the Viennese dance, was put forward to Ravel by the famous ballet impresario Sergei Diaghilev in the first decade of the 20th century. When the work was written in 1920, however, it was criticised as beautiful but “not danceable”, which offended the composer. After an exchange of rudeness, the fervent Russian even considered a duel that did not fortunately take place, but their acquaintance was over. Diaghilev’s assessment turned out to be unfair and the beautiful homage to the waltz has enjoyed great ballet performances (with the great Ida Rubinstein, among others). However, this track, which shimmers with colours and emotions, resounds more often on concert stages.
In 1917, the aforementioned Sergei Diaghilev visited Madrid with his Ballets Russes, delighted with the pantomime of El corregidor y la molinera by Manuel de Falla, and suggested that the author develop it into a ballet, which the latter gladly accepted. The turbulent time of war was not conducive to a quick premiere of the new work (which in its new version was entitled El sombrero de tres picosThe Three-Cornered Hat, a symbol of the power of the eponymous figure of an official from the novel by Pedro Antonio de Alarcón, which the work was derived from). The delayed world premiere took place in London in 1919 and became a dazzling climax of Falla’s work to date, choreographed by Léonide Massine, with stage design and costumes designed by Pablo Picasso, and conducted by Ernest Ansermet. The setting of the comic action is an Andalusian town, where the insidious corregidor (an official serving as mayor and judge) makes unwelcome advances on a beautiful miller’s wife. The popularity of the colourful music drawing to the spectacular folklore of southern Spain has meant that it is often performed autonomously, in the form of orchestral suites.
Hungarian music is often perceived through the prism of a style called verbunkos, with its characteristic form of the csárdás, consisting of a nostalgic, emphatic lassú introduction and a fiery, fast, virtuoso friss section. However, it is only one of the faces of the music of this country, referring mainly to the Romani folklore of the Balkan borderland. It was so attractive that it was reflected vividly in artistic music, popularised in it thanks to such composers as Liszt and Brahms, among others. Subsequent creators of the national style wanted to draw attention to the fact that the native Hungarian folklore is much richer and more varied. Ethnographic research and documentation by Zoltán Kodály and Bela Bartók captured it when it was about to disappear; it also found a living reflection in the work of both great Hungarians, sometimes quoted literally, or, more frequently, subjected to subtle stylization. However, both of them occasionally succumbed to the charm of verbunkos – the accessible and euphonic, extremely beautiful Dances of Galanta (1933), is one of the interesting concessions Kodály made in favour of this style.
Aleksander Tansman, who came from Łódź, lived in France and the USA since the 1920s. The neoclassical style, full of lightness, humour and charm, was especially appreciated in the interwar Paris, where Tansman found his footing perfectly. He soon became a “citizen of the world”, a figure widely appreciated by many of his contemporaries, luminaries of art, literature and music. He did not forget about his youth spent in Poland, relatively often adapting national motifs in his compositions. This can be seen perfectly in Four Polish Dances (1931), a suite consisting of a polka, kujawiak, dumka and oberek, which the author dedicated to the Orchestre des Concerts Pasdeloup in Paris.
Also entering into a dialogue with musical past is Suite de danses et de chansons by Zygmunt Krazue (1977), one of the many works inspired by the extraordinary talent of the Polish harpsichordist, Elżbieta Chojnacka, who died a year ago, and who specialised in performing new music on a Baroque instrument. She also performed this work, dedicated to her, for the first time. Aleksandra Gajecka-Antosiewicz, the outstanding soloist of the evening, was a student in the famous Salzburg Mozarteum between 2001 and 2003. Suite is a perverse piece – “music created from different music”, but contrary to its title and cast, it does not refer to the courtyard of the French kings. In this case, the “building blocks” are the motifs of elemental Balkan folklore.

Aleksandra Gajecka-Antosiewicz | harpsichord
Polish Sinfonia Iuventus Orchestra
Mirosław Jacek Błaszczyk | conductor

Alexandre Tansman | Four Polish Dances
Maurice Ravel | La valse
Zoltán Kodály | Dances of Galánta
Zygmunt Krauze | Suite de dances et de chansons for harpsichord and orchestra (1977)
Manuel de Falla | Suite No. 1 from the ballet The Three-Cornered Hat

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