“Sweet(y) Stary in Concert vol. 4
A concert of songs to words by William Shakespeare, Jan Kochanowski and Philip Sidney
These composers, writing music for some brilliant sixteenth-century texts, managed to soar past virtuosity, past their own egos. They reached beyond limits of intimacy rarely transcended. Paweł Mykietyn, Tadeusz Baird, Jerzy Bauer, Mieczysław Weinberg, Eytan Pessen, Bryan Ferry, Andrzej Panufnik – each has their individual and unique style and approach to the structure of music, yet they are all joined by a remarkable relationship to the written word. The songs are performed by actors: Małgorzata Walenda, who possesses a voice of enormous capabilities, with a wide range of colour, marvellous both for jazz and for the acrobatics of modern classical music, and Grzegorz Grabowski, gifted with a beautiful, warm, and soft timbre of voice and a wide range.
Tadeusz Baird’s renditions of Shakespeare’s sonnets are intimate and focused works. Seldom performed,Mieczysław Weinberg’s pieces written to Russian translations of Shakespeare’s sonnets are restored to their English originals in our concert. Weinberg and Baird chose entirely different pieces from among Shakespeare’s 154 sonnets; the former chose works that speak more of struggle than contemplation, setting them to music that was sometimes dark, sometimes ironic and defiant, with unusual rhythms and a sense of mystery. In Paweł Mykietyn’s rendering, Shakespeare’s sonnets play with time and space, with echoes imitating the sound of the piano, and vice versa. Eytan Pessen’s compositions put the piano on at least an equal footing with the voices – here the texture of the piano builds a world that is milder, and dappled with sun. “To a Village Woman” is set in a Jewish inn, “To a Linden” is a sunny landscape. The actors play with the musical phrases, bantering with the piano and with one another.