Mansurian / Carter. String
Anja Lechner - cello
Tigran Mansurian - grand piano
Karolina Piątkowska-Nowicka – I violin
Dariusz Prystasz – II violin
Michał Markiewicz – viola
Krzysztof Pawłowski – cello
Tigran Mansurian Capriccio
Tigran Mansurian Four Hayrens (world premiere)
The Songs of Komitas
Tigran Mansurian String Quartet No. 2
Elliott Carter String Quartet No. 2
If we think of his three cello concertos composed within barely five years (1976-81) and Quasi parlando for cello and string orchestra composed in 2012, we can clearly see Tigran Mansurian’s fondness of expressing himself through this instrument. What is more, the composer has found the ideal performer to play his cello pieces in Anja Lechner, a brilliant German instrumentalist who often interprets many of Mansurian’s works. The talent of both these artists has been greatly appreciated by Manfred Eicher, the founder of ECM Records which, for many years, has been publishing Mansurian’s compositions performed by various artists, including Anja Lechner. As far as Capriccio for cello solo (1981) is concerned, we are not talking about a caprice as a virtuoso display of skills à la Paganini, but rather, a slow lyrical form that is closer to Brahms’ capriccios. The piece consists of two contrasting links, each based on a separate, repeated and transformed motif. As their musical discourse progresses, the motifs meet to introduce an element of tension and nearly theatrical dramaturgy. Capriccio ends with a double repeat of chords from the beginning of the composition extended in time. They sound like a question mark which the composer puts at the end of the piece instead of a full stop.
In 2012, Tigran Mansurian wrote a piece called Quasi parlando for Anja Lechner. The title can be translated as ‘almost speaking’ or ‘as if speaking’. The new transcriptions of the Songs of Komitas and the Four Hayrens provide Mansurian with another opportunity for allowing the cello to become close to or even replace the human voice. In arranging vocal pieces to accommodate the language of an instrument, the composer embarked on the difficult task of converting the characteristic intonations and phonetics of Armenian, in which the pieces were originally written, for the medium of the cello. This year’s Nostalgia will be the first ever opportunity to listen to these new works, enhanced by the fact that they will be performed by Mansurian himself and by Anja Lechner. The concert will be brought to you in collaboration with ECM Records which has been supporting Nostalgia Festival Poznań since 2007.
The current Nostalgia is also an opportunity to juxtapose the works of Tigran Mansurian with those of Elliott Carter. On the first concert night, we will listen to two second string quartets by both composers. During his first visit to Poznań, Mansurian said that, like many musicians of his generation, he considered Shostakovich his father. This affinity can be clearly heard in Mansurian’s quartets which owe a lot to Shostakovich’s later quartets. Mansurian’s String Quartet No. 2 (2001) is a musical epitaph for his late friend Eduard Chagagortzian. This three-part composition, inspired, to some extent, by Komitas’ elegiac melodies, aims to convey a mystical image of death or, according to the composer, ‘the passage from partial to complete blackness’.
Written in 1959, Elliott Carter’s String Quartet No. 2 introduces an element of psychological characterisation to the instruments. Positioned as if on a theatre stage, the musicians perform the roles their instruments have been cast in by the composer. Each instrument is given a special set of melodic and harmonic intervals, and rhythmic patterns. This produces a lively four-voice exchange between distinct individuals who speak in turn or become involved in a conversation. It is said that the quartet, which won the Pulitzer Prize, was inspired by The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann. It will be interesting to see if we can recognise Hans, Joachim, Settembrini and Naphta in the particular roles.
Anja Lechner is a versatile cellist who performs both classical and contemporary repertoires. For many years, she has worked with the ECM label of Munich, for whom she has recorded extensively. She has played live concerts of works by composers like Tigran Mansurian, Valentin Silvestrov, Annette Focks, Alexandra Filonenko and Zad Moultaka. As a chamber musician, Anja Lechner has performed with Patricia Kopatchinskaja, Alexei Lubimov, Agnès Vesterman and Tatjana Masurenko. Her project with Greek pianist and composer Vassilis Tsabropulos, dedicated to George Gurdjieff, reached the top of US classical music charts.
Tigran Mansurian was born in 1939, in Beirut. On his return to his native Armenia, he soon established his position among other artists of his generation, including Sofia Gubaidulina, Giya Kancheli and Arvo Pärt. Hailing from various Soviet republics, they combined contemporary composition techniques with the musical traditions of their homelands. Tigran Mansurian is renowned as the most brilliant Armenian composer and a genuine ambassador of his country’s music. For many years, he taught at the National Conservatory in Yerevan. Apart from numerous orchestral and vocal works, Tigran Mansurian has also created a number of film scores, including the score for Parajanov’s The Colour of Pomegranates.
The NeoQuartet specialises in performing contemporary music and aims to promote the works mainly of young composers. Their repertoire includes works by Reich, Crumb, Schnittke and Penderecki, as well as the premiere performances of composers from the younger generation, for instance Stulgińska, Czerniewicz and Kościów. In 2009, the quartet was a semi-finalist (among ten other ensembles from all over the world) of the prestigious International Gaudeamus Competition for Interpreters of Contemporary Music in Amsterdam. In 2010, the NeoQuartet released their debut album on the DUX label.