Mansurian / Carter. Piano
performed by: Maciej Grzybowski
Tigran Mansurian – Three Pieces for the Low Keys
Elliott Carter – Night Fantasies
TIgran Mansurian – Three Pieces
(BREAK - around 10 minutes)
Elliott Carter – Tri-Tribute
Elliott Carter – Sonata
Tigran Mansurian – Nostalgia
The second festival night is dedicated exclusively to piano compositions by Elliott Carter and Tigran Mansurian. Carter’s Piano Sonata and Night fantasies are the genuine milestones of his oeuvre, and pianist Maciej Grzybowski will enhance these with the three Tri-Tribute miniatures. Mansurian’s works for piano will be represented by two series of short pieces, complemented by a composition bearing the same name as the festival in Poznań.
Completed in 1947, the Piano Sonata (together with the Sonata for Cello and Piano created two years later) marked a new direction in Carter’s work. From then on, it was featured by two new aspects: rhythmic flexibility (achieved through frequent tempo changes, which in time, led to the development of the ‘metric modulation’ concept) and melodics derived from harmonic series (achieved, in the case of the sonata, when played on the piano). Written in the same year that Milton Babbitt ultimately turned to post-Webern serialism, Carter’s sonata is a manifestation of his individual style: music that is often anxious, dramatic and very expressive. Carter said of the piece that it explored the sound resources and the various possibilities of using the keys and pedals, and even the harmonic capabilities of the modern piano. He wanted to put the piano in the centre of a piece from which music would be born. To be presented tonight is the sonata’s second movement, the Andante, which is a reference to musical resources known from early music, for instance the fugue, whilst its character may, at times, bring to the mind certain pieces by Charles Ives or Aaron Copland.
Written thirty-five years after the Piano Sonata, Night Fantasies is a composition that evades the formal layout of both a sonata and a suite, and this makes it closer in character to Robert Schumann’s Kreisleriana. By breaking and tearing the musical phrases, Carter disrupted the hierarchy within the piece to achieve the ‘equality through diversity’ ideal. If an element of the piece is repeated it is first subjected to considerable modifications, allowing the composition to maintain its kaleidoscopic quality, whilst also fulfilling the demand for the music’s continuous development. The composer said that Night Fantasies was a piece with a constantly shifting mood that suggested the flow of thoughts and feelings you could experience when wide awake at night.
The third of Elliot Carter’s pieces to be presented tonight is Tri-Tribute, which comprises three musical miniatures from 2008, dedicated to American conductor James Levine and his relatives: his mother (Matribute), brother (Fratribute) and sister (Sistribute).
All the piano pieces by Tigran Mansurian that we will hear tonight were composed over a period of nine years, between 1971 and 1979. They are defined by a specific asceticism that results from the merging of avant-garde devices, which are the legacy of the Second Viennese School (especially in Three Pieces), with expression that is typical of traditional Armenian music. The latter element manifests in a monodic approach to the instrument and in the sparing use of ornamental figures, as exemplified by Nostalgia.
Maciej Grzybowski is a four-time nominee for the Paszporty Polityki Award. He has recorded two albums (Universal, EMI Classics), which were nominated for the Fryderyk Award. As a soloist, he has performed at international festivals next to world-famous artists like Martha Argerich, Paul Badura-Skoda, Grigorij Sokołow, Ivo Pogorelich and Piotr Anderszewski, as well as the Arditti Quartet and the London Sinfonietta. He has toured Europe, including Germany, the United Kingdom, Italy, Austria and Ukraine, and has given several performances in the USA and Canada.