Despite the immense stylistic variety of Polish music from the last fifty years, many of these works demonstrate a keen sense of historical context, nodding appreciatively through the centuries. Tune in for the piano course to this week's Muzyka Nowa smorgasbord and explore the keyboard music of Polish modernism. In context.
Franz Liszt said of Frederic Chopin, one of Poland's great cultural ambassadors, that "the anguished cries of Poland lend to his art a mysterious, indefinable poetry." Perhaps the same can be said of the composers on this week's program, if not specifically because of their common cultural context than perhaps more generally because the pathos and melancholy that's so often expressed in these works is tinged with the same mysteriousness and indefinability that shrouds Chopin's music.
Chopin was also a true modernist. Listen to the unnerving, relentlessly minimalist center section of his Polonaise in F-sharp minor, Op. 44, or the unstable, often "rule-breaking", harmonic language of his late Mazurkas. Hear how these traits are expanded and reinvented by Karol Szymanowski, the under appreciated torchbearer of Polish late Romanticism.
Of course we also have the great modern masters of Polish pianism, Henryk Gorecki and Witold Lutowslawki (no solo piano music from Krzysztof Pendericki), and offer -- among other things -- piano concertos by both composers (the Lutoslawski brilliantly performed by Leif Ove Andsnes). Grazyna Bacewicz, a contemporary of Lutoslawski, is also hardly known in the States, and thanks to a recent album from Krystian Zimerman you'll hear her Second Sonata and two piano quintets.
Rounding out the timeline are recently written works by the extraordinary Pawel Szymanski, Jan Radzynski, Roger Przytulski, and Jakub Cuipinski, who will host two specially curated episodes this week.