17 & 23 November 2018, Warsaw
The grand scale of Krzysztof Penderecki’s Birthday Festival brings to mind the enormity of the composer’s achievement. Many artists who have been working together with the composer for years will visit Warsaw to take part in a spectacular review of his works. Penderecki is the artistic director of the Sinfonia Varsovia Orchestra, which will appear at the festival twice, including the final concert that will take place on the day of his birthday, of which Penderecki.
No Polish composer has likely experienced such an impressive celebration of his work while yet alive because there are few personalities in the history of Polish music that have made such a tremendous impact. On the eve of his 85th birthday, Krzysztof Penderecki will meet in Warsaw with a congregation of Polish and foreign artists to invite the public to celebrate together in five different venues. Sinfonia Varsovia occupies a special place in this gathering – Krzysztof Penderecki has been the Orchestra’s artistic director for the past 15 years.
The musicians of Sinfonia Varsovia will appear at the second concert of the Festival – on 17 November at 7:30 p.m. at the National Philharmonic concert hall. The programme consists of works composed in the space of nearly 40 years, showing the consistent evolution of the Penderecki’s musical language. Symphony No. 2 was composed in 1980. It is one of the first works in which the composer decisively cut himself off from the avant-garde, turning towards the romantic tradition. A stylistic eclecticism has become the composer’s calling card, with many important works composed in this manner. These definitely include the other two works comprising the evening’s programme: Piano Concerto “Resurrection” (2002), dedicated to the victims of the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center and Symphony No. 6 “Chinese Songs” for baritone and orchestra, composed in 2016. The solo part in the Piano Concerto will be performed by Lithuanian pianist Mūza Rubackytė. Symphony No. 6 features two soloists: erhu (Chinese string instrument) virtuoso Zen Hu and German baritone Stephan Genz. The conductor’s podium will be occupied in turn by Wojciech Rajski, Sergey Smbatyan and Andres Mustonen.
The final concert of the Krzysztof Penderecki Festival will be held on the stage of Teatr Wielki – the National Opera, featuring a truly operatic cast of musicians. On 23 November, the maestro’s birthday, the stage will be occupied by seven soloists, three choirs, three conductors and the Sinfonia Varsovia Orchestra. The composer has invited Anne-Sophie Mutter, who will perform Violin Concerto No.2 “Metamorphoses”, a work dedicated to the violinist. This will be followed by Concerto grosso for three cellos and orchestra, in which the solo parts will be performed by Frans Helmerson, Ivan Monighetti and Arto Noras. The concert and the whole festival will conclude with Dies illa, dedicated to the memory of victims of World War I. The work will feature the combined forces of the National Philharmonic Choir, the Poznań Chamber Choir and the Choir of the National Music Forum in Wrocław. They will be accompanied by soloists Johanna Rusanen (soprano), Anna Radziejewska (mezzosoprano) and Nikolay Didenko (bass). The individual works will be conducted by Leonard Slatkin, Christoph Eschenbach, Maciej Tworek and Krzysztof Penderecki himself.
Presence at the Festival of so many major artists and ensembles from all over the world is a clear show of appreciation and respect that Penderecki enjoys in the music world. At the same time his relations with Polish artists contribute to the promotion of Polish music all over the world. An excellent example of this was Sinfonia Varsovia’s, Anne-Sophie Mutter’s and Penderecki’s and Tworek’s joint concert tour of 8 cities in China (Concert Tour - China). Krzysztof Penderecki’s Festival in November gives Polish audiences a unique opportunity to experience in one place and time everything for which the maestro is admired all over the world.