BEAT FURRER Face de la chaleur
WOLFGANG RIHM bildlos / weglos
LUIGI NONO No hay caminos, hay que caminar… Andrei Tarkovsky
STEVAN KOVACS TICKMAYER Eight Hymns
Performed by Orkiestra Kameralna L’Autunno and soloists of the Poznań Chamber Choir, conductor Adam Banaszak
It all started with the conductor Claudio Abbado. In 1983, he was to stage Mussorgsky’s Boris Godunov at London’s Covent Garden (1983) and he was asked to choose a director. He immediately pointed to the Russian visionary whom he had admired since he had seen Andrei Rublev. Fate had it that this was to be the only opera in Tarkovsky’s oeuvre. When the show recommenced at the Viennese Staatsoper in 1991, it was to be accompanied by a retrospective of Tarkovsky’s films and two exhibitions. Abbado also wanted to include a special musical accent. After all, Luigi Nono’s last orchestral piece, No hay caminos, hay que caminar… (There Are no Paths, yet You Must Walk…), dedicated to none other than the filmmaker, had not premiered in Austria yet.
“I contacted several composers with whom I was on friendly terms since my work with Wien Modern and asked them if they would write some works inspired by Tarkovsky or dedicated to him. I was moved by the fact that despite the short time they all did it: both Furrer and Kurtág as well as Rihm. They all came to the first performance. Kurtág played the piano part and Rihm dedicated his composition to Nono. This created a pure sense of symmetry, as if a circle had come full – a circle of friends that encompassed not only the three composers, but also the performers and the listeners. And the fact that the tickets for the concert at Grosser Musikverein had been sold out and that the performance was enthusiastically received by the audience and critics was only further proof of this.”
One of these friends was Luigi Nono (1924–90), nestor of the avant-garde who, nonetheless, did not always fit in with its mainstream. The late works of him are sparing of devices and characterised by an aesthetic of limitation and aphorism, a musical narrative resembling an archipelago of sounds divided by a sea of silence. And though we will find all these features in No hay caminos… for an orchestra split into seven ‘choirs’, the pianissimo strings will clash with explosions of a real brass fortissimo revolving obstinately around a single sound and its microtones. The inscription on the wall in Toledo did, indeed, say “you must walk”.
Two other friends who wrote the pieces for Andrei Tarkovsky were, at the time, members of the middle generation of composers who went on to become the leading figures of new music in their respective countries. The Austrian Beat Furrer furnished Face de la chaleur (Hot Face), maintained in his typical idiom of expressionistic trembling. The solo flute, clarinet and piano in the first half of the piece spin some anxious ornaments, whilst in the second half they calm down in overblows, hums and extended articulation techniques accompanied by an orchestra divided into four groups. The German Wolfgang Rihm, who is usually closer to neoromanticism and tradition, engages in a dialogue with Luigi Nono (who died just before Tarkovsky’s festival) in his bildlos / weglos (imageless / pathless). Seven sopranos conduct a dynamic exchange with the orchestra whilst all the utterances and sounds slowly unfold to come to a sudden halt.
And finally another friend who did not appear at the Wien Modern festival, the Hungarian composer Stevan Kovacs Tickmayer, the author of Eight Hymns included on Kremerata Baltica’s record, Hymns and Prayers. In this piece the quiet flageolets of the violins and the minimalist melody of the piano build a specific introverted world. Enhanced with a vibraphone, the tonal string cords, which bring to the mind the works of Henryk Mikołaj Górecki, resound in the hall (and in us) long after they stop playing.
Yes, this will be a beautiful concert comprising pieces written by some of the most excellent European composers each of whom approached the legacy of the Russian film visionary in their own individual way.
Since 2006, the l’Autunno Chamber Orchestra, founded and conducted by Adam Banaszak, has been taking up musical challenges and presenting a repertoire extending from baroque to contemporary pop music, with particular emphasis on vocal music and compositions from the 20th century.
The ensemble has worked with renowned international and Polish soloists, including José Carreras, Andrea Bocelli and Montserrat Caballé as well as Katarzyna Hołysz, Leszek Możdżer, Adam Szerszeń, Joanna Woś and Adam Zdunikowski. Surpassing the limits of classical music, they have also performed with artists like Archive, Kuba Badach, Electric Light Orchestra, Kwartet Jorgi, Mietek Szcześniak, Adam Sztaba, Motion Trio and Wacław Zimpel.
The orchestra has often engaged in an interdisciplinary dialogue with theatre and film. Apart from collaborating with some outstanding film music composers, for instance Jan A. P. Kaczmarek and Mark Isham, in 2009 they created the performance Wędrująca orkiestra (The Wandering Orchestra) for Malta Festival. The show won an award in the Malta competition New Situations and in Dolina Kreatywna, a Polish Television contest.
Conductor Adam Banaszak is a graduate of Professor Marcin Sempoliński’s class at the Academy of Music in Poznań. He also attended a number of master classes, including Dejan Savić’s (at the Burgas Opera) and Bernard Haitink’s (during the Lucerne Festival). Since 2006, he has been directing Orkiestra Kameralna l’Autunno. He was the initiator of the Polish Camino de Santiago Festival during which Polish musicians perform in towns that are on the pilgrimage route, the Way of St James, to the site of the apostle’s grave in Santiago de Compostela, Spain. In 2011 he debuted as an opera director in Giacomo Puccini’s Madame Butterfly. Since then he has also conducted Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Don Giovanni and The Magic Flute as well as Giuseppe Verdi’s La Traviata. In September 2013, he accepted the position of musical director and conductor at Teatr Muzyczny in Poznań.