Mansurian / Carter. Orchestra
l’Autunno Chamber Orchestra
Adam Mickiewicz University Choir (Beata Bielska - preparation)
Adam Banaszak, conductor
Maria Rozynek, sopran
Maciej Straburzyński, baritone
Natalia Rubiś, sopran
Maria Nowak-Walbrodt - violin
Maria Liszkowska-Sikorska - cello
Jakub Kaszuba - oboe / English horn
Paweł Kroczek - clarinet
Elliott Carter Sound Fields
Elliott Carter Tempo e tempi
Tigran Mansurian Requiem
On the first festival night, we had the opportunity to listen to traditional Armenian music recorded by Komitas and arranged by Tigran Mansurian for cello and piano, and to the elegiac String Quartet No. 2, written in memory of the composer’s late friend. Elements of both these pieces are brought together in Mansurian’s Requiem (2011). Composed for soprano and baritone solo, mixed chorus and string orchestra, it is dedicated to the memory of the victims of the genocide committed on Armenians by Young Turks between 1915 and 1917. The trauma caused by this is still perceptible in Armenia, and its most poignant symbol is the sacred Mount Ararat, which dominates the skyline of Armenia’s capital, but is now within the borders of Turkey. Like most Armenians, the story of Tigran Mansurian’s family has also been affected by the Armenian Genocide. He was born in Beirut in 1939, as the son of two of the many refugees that fled Anatolia in the face of the massacres. The Young Turk’s not only caused the death of one and a half million people, but also threatened to completely annihilate Armenian culture and its age-old architectural, literary and musical heritage. One of the many regrettable losses caused by these crimes was Komitas’ library containing the effects of his lifelong studies on traditional Armenian music. When he found out about the destruction of his library, Komitas, who had barely escaped death himself, became severely depressed and did not recover until his death in Villejuif near Paris in 1935.
Mansurian’s over half-hour-long composition displays an interesting paradox: the composer decided to use some canonical texts of the autocephalous Armenian Church translated, however, into Latin of the Roman Rite. This is yet another example of Mansurian turning towards the western tradition which he skilfully combines with that of his homeland, treating the latter with respect but without orthodoxy. The music of Requiem captures the listener with its simplicity and grief, which does, nonetheless, avoid sentimentality. Due to similar instrumentation, Mansurian’s Requiem seems to be closest to that of Gabriel Fauré: its music, apart from the clearly audible melodic element that is characteristic of the music of Armenia, seems to remain a silent cry of despair. A cry of someone who can forgive but not forget…
The last piece to be played during this festival is a short composition by Elliott Carter called Sound Fields. Written when the composer was ninety-nine years old, it surprised the audience who had become accustomed to Carter’s shifting and dynamic compositions. Instead of this, Carter suggests a brief meditation on one chosen aspect of a string orchestra’s capabilities. “In thinking about musical contrasts between thick textures and thin ones, I had the idea of composing a piece which depended only on such contrasts, always remaining at the same dynamic and tone colour using strings non-vibrato. Helen Frankenthaler’s fascinating Color Field pictures encouraged me to try this experiment.”
Conductor Adam Banaszak is a graduate of Professor Marcin Sompoliński’s class at the Academy of Music in Poznań. His repertoire focuses on opera and operetta. Since 2006, he has been directing the l’Autunno Chamber Orchestra with whom he has performed at numerous festivals. He has prepared various orchestras to play with some internationally renowned artists, for instance Andrea Bocelli, Jose Carreras, Montserrat Caballe and Placido Domingo. Since September 2013, Adam Banaszak has been the musical director and conductor of Teatr Muzyczny w Poznaniu, and in 2014, he began working with the Podlasie Opera and Philharmonic in Białystok, where he conducts performances of the Fiddler on the Roof.
Adam Mickiewicz University Choir
Founded in 1966, the Adam Mickiewicz University Choir initially consisted of students and staff members of the Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznań. Today it brings together singers from considerably wider circles. It has been led by some outstanding choral music personalities, including Jacek Sykulski, a well-known composer, arranger and conductor from Poznań. The choir has performed across Europe, and also in the USA, Canada, Bolivia, China, Japan and Taiwan. In the autumn of 2011, Jacek Sykulski was succeeded as choir director by his assistant of many years, Beata Bielska. The choir’s unique sound is the result of experimenting with musical matter.
The l’Autunno Chamber Orchestra
The l’Autunno Chamber Orchestra is a laboratory orchestra. Founded and conducted by Adam Banaszak, since 2006 the orchestra has been performing a repertoire ranging from baroque to vocal and instrumental compositions from the twentieth century. l’Autunno works with renowned international and Polish soloists, including Jose Carreras, Andrea Bocelli, Montserrat Caballe, Katarzyna Hołysz, Leszek Możdżer and Adam Szerszeń. It is also the host of the Polish Camino de Santiago Festival. The l’Autunno Chamber Orchestra has often engaged in an interdisciplinary dialogue with theatre (Malta Festival and Teatr Polski w Poznaniu), film (Transatlantyk Festival) and pop music (Archive, Kuba Badach, Electric Light Orchestra, Kwartet Jorgi and other artists).
Maria Rozynek, coloratura soprano, has performed at various theatres, including the Grand Theatre, Łódź; the Grand Theatre, Poznań, and Opera na Zamku, Szczecin. Maria Rozynek has worked with conductors like Bassem Akkiki, Adam Banaszak, Agnieszka Duczmal and Jose Maria Florencio, and with various orchestras, including the Amadeus Chamber Orchestra, Arte dei Suonatori and the Poznań Philharmonic.
Maciej Straburzyński, bass-baritone, studied in Poznań with Wojciech Drabowicz and in Amsterdam with David Wilson-Johnson. He is a Second Prize winner of the Ritorna Vincitor Competition in Ercolano-Neapoli. Maciej Straburzyński has performed at the Grand Theatre, Poznań, Opera na Zamku, Szczecin; the Dutch National Opera, Amsterdam; La Monnaie, Brussels, and Opéra-théâtre, Limoges. He has also sung at the Operadagen Festival, Rotterdam; the Warsaw Autumn and Wratislavia Cantans.
Natalia Rubiś, soprano, graduated from the Wrocław Academy of Music and is continuing her studies at Hochschule für Musik, Dresden. She is a laureate of various international competitions, including in Rome, Milan, Kiev and Wrocław. She has performed with conductors and ensembles like Fabio Bonizzoni, Jan Tomasz Adamus, Tadeusz Wojciechowski, Jarosław Thiel, Gioele Muglialdo, Capella Cracoviensis, Harmonologia and l'Arte del Mondo.