From Seville and the Aranjuez Gardens
20.01. 2018, 7.00 p.m.
The Witold Lutosławski Concert Studio of the Polish Radio in Warsaw
On a cold January evening, Iberian sunshine will come in handy – two of the concert’s very carefully selected compositions are directly inspired by the musical tradition of this region, while the newest (Mikołaj Górecki’s Arioso e furioso from 2014) refers to it more allusively, also through the selection of the solo guitar and the sound idiom characteristic of it. The popularity of guitar-type instruments (initially of different shapes and constructions) in Europe began in Spain, which had long remained until Arabic rule. After the Reconquista, permanent Arabic cultural traces remained, such as a wide range of instruments, including numerous chordophones (also including lutes, which are related to guitars). In the Renaissance and the Baroque, Spain was the source of the artistic guitar repertoire that radiated across Europe, but the instrument was also used in popular, folk and dance music – in the hands on the Andalusian Roma, it sounded very distinct, creating motifs that are permanently associated with the “Andalusian style” and later referred to as the general flamenco style. This face of Iberian music was noticed particularly in the 19th century, on the wave of growing interest in folklore and the diversity of national styles. The music of the south, full of passion and excitement, quickly became fashionable, especially in France at first, inspiring countless works – fantasies, suites, rhapsodies and others, referred to as “espagnole”. Of course, this fashion could not overlook the opera, and the most famous example became George Bizet’s Carmen, which told the tragic love story of a beautiful gypsy and the deserter Don José, set in the scenery of Andalusian Seville. It may be difficult to believe, but the Paris premiere of the work in 1875 was a critical fiasco, which may have contributed to the premature death of the crushed author. Shortly afterwards, however, his delayed triumph was to come, and its echo were two suites, consisting of instrumental interludes, dances and aria transcriptions, prepared by the composer’s friend, Ernest Guiraud, which gained great popularity as autonomous concert works.
Among the many works of Spanish composer Joaquín Rodrigo, the 1939 Concierto de Aranjuez made the most lasting mark in the memories of music lovers. The title refers to the marvellous gardens of the Spanish royal residence near Madrid, where the composer loved to spend time with his wife (the town repaid him for making it famous with a statue of the composer and a monument to the work, while the king of Spain granted him the noble title El Marquesado de los Jardines de Aranjuez; the composer and his wife were also buried in the gardens). The Classical work, written so that the subtle sounds of the guitar are never “overwhelmed” by the orchestra, captivates with the beauty of its nostalgic melodies and dance rhythms. The second movement – the moving Adagio – is particularly beloved (and eagerly used in various contexts, including non-concert ones).
The soloist of the evening will be Łukasz Kuropaczewski, one of the most talented guitarists of his generation. His already worldwide fame, versatility, technical perfection, and the beauty and nobility of sound inspire many composers to create works dedicated to the artist – among them is Arioso e furioso. Concert for guitar, string orchestra and percussion. The piece was commissioned by Alina Gruszka, artistic director of the 15th Silesian Guitar Autumn International Festival and the Jan Edmund Jurkowski Competition in Tychy, in 2014. Since the premiere, this interesting work has become part of the repertoire of Łukasz Kuropaczewski, who is its unparalleled interpreter. The concert will be led by Piotr Gajewski, a conductor of Polish descent living in the US since childhood, where he developed a great career, including leading his own National Philharmonic Orchestra in Washington, D.C. A reviewer from The Washington Post described him as “An immensely talented and insightful conductor”, whose “standards, taste and sensitivity are impeccable”. The wonderful musician maintains regular contact with Poland, performing here as a conductor, as well as serving as a juror of the Grzegorz Fitelberg International Competition for Conductors.
Łukasz Kuropaczewski | guitar
Polish Sinfonia Iuventus Orchestra
Piotr Gajewski | Conductor
Mikołaj Górecki Arioso e furioso. Concert for guitar, string orchestra and percussion
Joaquín Rodrigo Concierto de Aranjuez
Georges Bizet Suite 1 and 2 from Carmen