Polish accent of Concordia

Composer and conductor Krzysztof Penderecki opened an international festival in Kazan

Polish accent of Concordia Photo: Oleg Tikhonov

The International Festival of Contemporaneous Music named after Sofia Gubaidullina opened in the S. Saydashev State Big Concert Hall on 3 November. A sensation happened in the very first evening. Legendary Krzysztof Penderecki, Polish composer and conductor, opened the festival. Realnoe Vremya tells the details.

''Legends are always full of legends''

Mr Krzysztof Penderecki, a living legend, one of the brightest composers of Eastern Europe, was invited to the festival to Kazan. It was a sensation, in itself. But Penderecki wasn't just an honourable guest but a ''VIP'' whose music was performed. He rehearsed with the State Symphony Orchestra of the Republic of Tatarstan and even conducted the orchestra while performing one of his compositions.

During the short press scrum when both the guest and head conductor and art director of the State Symphony Orchestra of the Republic of Tatarstan Aleksandr Sladkovsky, who is the art director of Concordia as well met with journalists, Penderecki highly evaluated the Tatarstan orchestra that ''understands his music well'' as he said. Krzysztof Penderecki's music is complicated. There is a legend that musicians often refuse to perform it at times because they're afraid of spoiling instruments. ''Mr Penderecki is a living legend himself, and legends are always full of legends,'' Aleksandr Sladkovsky joked. But Penderecki confirmed: ''Yes, they refused.''

''In the West, Sofia Gubaidullina stands right after Shostakovich and Schnittke,'' Penderecki says

Such a thing did not happen in the State Symphony Orchestra of the Republic of Tatarstan because the orchestra got used to being responsible for the material and goes for rehearsal being ready for work. Krzysztof Penderecki's complicated music with his some alogism wasn't out of the Kazan musicians' depth. The training of recent years has affected. Penderecki was asked about his attitude to Sofia Gubaidullina. Native of Chistopol Sofia Gubaidullina whom citizens of Kazan consider their compatriot anyway – she lived in Kazan for many years – is extremely popular in the West. She is more popular and performed more often than in Russia. ''In the West, Sofia Gubaidullina stands right after Shostakovich and Schnittke,'' Penderecki explained.

By the way, Concordia festival, where Gubaidullina's music is always present and has been performed this year as well, was created as a tool to popularise Sofia Gubaidullina's compositions. And not only. It is important for the orchestra to show the whole range of contemporaneous music, the environment where musical ideas of such an unclear composer as Gubaidullina are born. This composer is really performed in Russia not so often. Kazan halls weren't an exception before Concordia, so the appearance of the festival returned Gubaidullina to Russian listeners somehow.

Maestro behind the music stand

The programme of Krzysztof Penderecki's compositions started with the performance of his violin concert, the composer's assistant was behind the conductor's stand. Krzysztof Penderecki named his difficult philosophic Metamorphoses concert for violin and orchestra so. One of the top violinists of the world playing with many famous collectives – Korean-born Ye-Eun Choi – was the soloist. A light, flying sound of her violin became an adornment of the first part of the concert.

A light, flying sound of Ye-Eun Choi's violin became an adornment of the first part of the concert

The Korean violinist, a whizz-kid who entered a university in Seoul aged 7 became the youngest participant of the P. Tchaikovsky competition. Later she was under the wing of Anne-Sophie Mutter, who says that Ye-Eun Choi not only plays music but ''passes it through herself''.

We need to remind that Anne-Sophie Mutter is one of those violinists who often performs Sofia Gubaidullina's music. She played in the S. Saydashev State Big Concert Hall together with the Mariinsky Theatre Symphony Orchestra and Valery Gergiev several years ago. The programme has Gubaidullina's music, and the composer was in the hall. So creative fates interlace at the Kazan festival.

The first festival concert has clear dramaturgy. The audience waited for very maestro Penderecki and saw him in the second part when Mr Penderecki occupied a seat behind the music stand while the audience broke into applause. Krzysztof Penderecki says that when he conducts his compositions, he can try to make separate elements of the composition perfect in his mind. And only he knows how the sound of his composition should develop.

The audience waited for very maestro Penderecki and saw him in the second part

Penderecki's Symphony No. 4 has been performed in Kazan for the first time as well as his violin concert. The music was similar to a heavy storm from the very beginning, it bewitched and made breathe and feel in a desperate rhythm.

Penderecki of the violin concert was complicated. But this complication could be revealed and understood. It led to the mind than the emotional nature of listeners. In Symphony No. 4 , Penderecki was passionate, penetrating, he magically managed our emotions. Of course, Krzysztof Penderecki's music is aimed at a person who comes to the concert hall to get new spiritual experience, not looking for entertainment. However, such listeners did appear in Kazan for 7 years of Concordia festival's existence.

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By Tatiana Mamaeva. Photo: Oleg Tikhonov