“Listening to each other” – Marta Konieczna for “Ruch Muzyczny” about the jubilee of Zygmunt Krauze

Listening to each other

Zygmunt Krauze has a body of work that is valuable for both concert halls and art galleries. In his artistic path he often brought these spaces together, so he also had to celebrate his 85th birthday in edifices from both worlds. In Lodz, where, as he always emphasizes, he grew up and learned music, the philharmonic and the Art Museum prepared two evenings with his work

Zygmunt Krauze i Paweł Przytocki, Filharmonia Łódzka, 15.09.2023, fot. Dariusz Kulesza/FŁ

Zygmunt Krauze and Paweł Przytocki, Lodz Philharmonic, 15.09.2023, photo by Dariusz Kulesza/FŁ

Those familiar with the activities of the Lodz Academy of Music professor will not be surprised, but let’s emphasize that he was present at both concerts as not only a composer, but also a performer. For him, the anniversary did not mean reverie in the audience’s seat, but another artistic activity, of which there is no shortage in the artist’s schedule. With the Lodz Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of Paweł Przytocki, he performed his Piano Concerto No. 2, a four-movement ode to the “sacred places of art.”

I particularly like this concerto because it contains, in my opinion, the most important qualities of his oeuvre: tensionless, colorful voicings punctuated by melodic spurts with a folk or non-European flavor (the orchestra performed very well in both types of statements, especially in the second movement).

The piece became significantly performative when Krauze put on white gloves to play in the third movement. A beautiful concentration then ensued, and I have a feeling that it was then that the Philharmonic Orchestra and Philharmonic players picked up some nonchalance from the sonic swarm for the rest of the evening. It came in handy in Dvořák’s Eighth, presented after intermission – performed loudly, majestically and at fast tempos. Meanwhile, the event opened with Pavel Klecki’s Sinfonietta, conducted lightly, with a most interestingly expressive finale with variations. This item was also on the program for important festive reasons, as Klecki, a composer and conductor born in Lodz, is celebrating his one year in his hometown.

Koncert „De ira, de dolore”, Muzeum Pałac Herbsta w Łodzi, 17.09.2023, fot. Muzeum Sztuki w Łodzi

Concert “De ira, de dolore”, Herbst Palace Museum in Lodz, 17.09.2023, photo: Museum of Art in Lodz.

Two days later, in the intimate atmosphere of Herbst Palace, the concert was already entirely dedicated to the jubilarian, and an exhibition of his scores and correspondence was also shown. The event shared its title – “De ira, de dolore” – with the composition performed that evening, written for the Music Cooperative. The piece is another example of the composer’s tendency to respond artistically to current events, this time – the war in Ukraine. The musical language draws from the folklore of Red Ruthenia, inhabited by different peoples for centuries, but combines it with an electronic layer prepared in cooperation with the author’s former student Wojciech Blazejczyk. The most prominent, however, remained the piano, at which Krauze himself once again sat. He felt the timbre of the Cooperative well, on this day in a more classical edition. The moment for unconventional performances came at One Piano Eight Hands. The four performers, dressed in jackets, hats and scarves, sat down to a jittery piano – a trademark of the composer. I particularly liked it in the Apollinaire Poem offered at the end, when it clashed texturally with the piano and synthesizer. In this case, Krauze again spoke, reciting the poet’s The Beautiful Redhead while playing. He communicated superbly with the ensemble in terms of performance. The concert, moreover, opened with a vigorous improvisation. Perky runs in the piano’s high register and shouts, mainly by the professor himself, counterpointed the glissandi, gusty parts of the rest of the group. The brass section and percussion had an exceptionally interesting dialogue.

Where to place the achievements of the jubilarian? I would certainly like on some pedestal (metaphorical and literal), but I know that he is an artist who prefers to be close to people and the issues that affect them.

It’s one thing to write new songs in response to current events, in addition to those intended for young bands. And the other is that the concerts, instead of galas, turned out to be pump-less encounters with the music and himself. For me, nothing expresses the composer’s attitude better than his words conveyed to the orchestra and the audience of the Lodz Philharmonic over the gifts they received – wishes for us, but also for each other – to listen to each other.


Author: Marta Konieczna (“Glissando”)