Hall: Concert Hall
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"Saved from Oblivion"
"Polish Piano Concertos"
Written in 1822 and exuding great subtlety and warmth, the two movements of Symphony in B Minor are definitely among the most original and mysterious examples of Schubert’s oeuvre. Despite the fact that surviving sketches confirm that he had started composing the third movement, we will never find out why and at what point exactly he stopped working on this masterpiece. Perhaps he realised that he would never be able to write music of such unparalleled genius as he had for the first two movements and concluded that adding anything else would simply be unnecessary?
We will never get an unequivocal answer to this question, nor will we be any further enlightened on other, much more poignant concerns, such as, for example the meaning of human existence. This huge question mark served as the basis for another intriguing piece – Charles Ives’ The Unanswered Question. The composer constructed his philosophical manifesto with the help of three instrumental groups: a trumpet, flutes and strings, whose final, sustained chords quieten the whole and ensures this question remains unanswered forever.
The classics of Polish contemporary music serve as a counterpoint to Ives and Schubert. Tadeusz Baird’s evocative Four Essays was once very popular, thanks partly to the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra, which often performed this piece during international tours. However, in the 21st century, Baird’s music is played much less frequently.
As part of the “Polish Piano Concertos” series, audiences will at last have a chance to become more familiar with Grażyna Bacewicz’s Concerto for Two Pianos and Orchestra. It is quite surprising that this vibrant and radiant piece is so rarely included in concert programmes.
It has only been performed on the Philharmonic’s stage twice – in 1966 and 1971 – on each occasion by two outstanding pianists, Jerzy Maksymiuk and Jerzy Witkowski.