Marek Janowski conductor
Krzysztof Penderecki Chaconne in memoria del Giovanni Paolo II from Polish Requiem [7’]
Franz Schubert Symphony no. 5 in B-flat major, D. 485 [27’]
II. Andante con moto
III. Menuetto. Allegro molto – Trio
IV. Allegro vivace
– interval –
Ludwig van Beethoven Symphony no. 3 in E-flat major Eroica, Op. 55 [47’]
I. Allegro con brio
II. Marcia funebre. Adagio assai
III. Scherzo. Allegro vivace – Trio
IV. Finale. Allegro molto – Poco andante – Presto
Sinfonia Varsovia’s next, fourth meeting with Marek Janowski and Ludwig van Beethoven will take you on a journey to the circle of Dantean paradise resided by Beethoven, Schubert, Penderecki, and Mozart. Perhaps from there one can see the other circles inhabited by the figures to whom Penderecki and Beethoven dedicated their works: St. John Paul II and an anonymous “great Man”.
The concert will open with The Chaconne in memoria del Giovanni Paolo II, which can be viewed as Sinfonia Varsovia’s tribute to Krzysztof Penderecki, its longtime musical and artistic director. He conducted the Orchestra hundreds of times, among others, in the premiere performance of his Sinfonietta per archi in 1992, a composition dedicated to the Warsaw Orchestra. With the form based on the Baroque ciaccona, the Chaconne was written in 2005 as a late addition to the Polish Requiem, which was commissioned in 1980 by the Independent Self-Governing Trade Union “Solidarity” to commemorate the victims of the December events at the Gdańsk shipyard. The piece was composed in stages. Penderecki first wrote the Lacrimosa dedicated to Lech Wałęsa, then, in 1981, he composed the Agnus Dei dedicated to the memory of Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński, and in 1983, he arranged six excerpts of the Dies irae sequence, including the opening part commemorating the victims of the Warsaw Uprising, the Quid sum miser – the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, and the Recordare for the canonization of Father Maximilian Maria Kolbe. Over a quarter-century of work, the composer revised the form of the cycle several times and added a number of new movements. Composed in the year of the Polish pope’s death, the Chaconne is the final addition to the work, which can be viewed as a monument to Polish historical memory. Based on an ostinato bass sequence, Penderecki’s variations illustrate the strength of the human will. The work’s dark tones situate it within pieces that express the confrontation of an outstanding individual with an oppressive state and its institutions hostile to individualism.
The power of will emanating from Penderecki’s works has its archetype in the works of Ludwig van Beethoven, particularly his Symphony No. 3 in E-flat major, known as the Eroica, although the title given to it by the author was more elaborate: Sinfonia eroica, composta per festeggiare il sovvenire d’un grand’Uomo, which literally means “heroic symphony composed to celebrate the memory of a great Man”. It was initially dedicated to Napoleon Bonaparte, but after he crowned himself Emperor of the French, the composer erased the dedication. Instead, Beethoven dedicated his symphony to a Man spelled with a capital letter, a Man in general. The novel form of the work conveys a clear message. After the initial Allegro con brio – maintained in classical style, but framed originally in sonata form – comes the solemn and serious Funeral March. It is followed by the Scherzo that contrasts the mortal solemnity of the previous movement with a joyful vitality. The opposition of life and death, stagnation and vitality is one of the most important themes in Beethoven’s work. The finale turns into variations, the theme of which is taken from the composer’s earlier ballet, The Creatures of Prometheus. The successive variations of the Promethean theme symbolize the heroic deeds performed by the great Man to whom the composer dedicated his work.
Between the two pieces paying tribute to great figures, we will hear Franz Schubert’s Symphony No. 5 in B-flat Major, D. 485, scored for the smallest orchestra and the most optimistic of all the Viennese composer’s symphonies, far from the heroic works of Beethoven and Penderecki. It also can be viewed as a tribute to the great Man who won the heart of the 19-year-old composer and continuously for years has occupied the first place in the private canons of music lovers around the world. The man in question is, of course, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. The Symphony in B-flat Major introduces us to Schubert as a fan of Mozart’s music, who, on June 13, 1816 – shortly before he started working on the piece – wrote in his diary the enthusiastic words to the master: “Mozart! Immortal Mozart! What countless impressions of a brighter, better life hast thou stamped upon our souls!”. Schubert’s Symphony No. 5 in B-flat major testifies to the better, brighter place that Mozart created with his music. The four movements lead us through the familiar world of classical symphonic form: the swift, fast Allegro, the lively Andante con moto slow movement, the brisk Allegro molto tempo minuet, and the short Allegro vivace finale. In the world made of clear rules and ear-pleasing material, any music lover can feel safe and happy.