The group puts together an unusual combination of piano and percussion duets, a one-of-a-kind quartet in Poland and one of only a few in the world.
Kwadrofonik's members are Emilia Sitarz and Bartłomiej Wąsik of the Lutosławski Piano Duo along with Magdalena Kordylasińska and Miłosz Pękala of the Hob-beats Duo.
The band was founded in 2006 following a brilliant performance at the ninth annual Polish Radio Folk Festival where the quartet received the Grand Prix, the Burza Braw audience award and an award of distinction from the President of Warsaw. Music critics describe Kwadrofonik as groundbreaking and visionary, representing a new form of folk music.
Kwadrofonik's style provides an atypical form of music in which the relationship between instruments and their musical function undergoes a gradual change. A prominent and distinctive feature of their music is characterised by the different roles attributed to their instruments - the pianos transform into instruments of percussion whilst the percussion assumes the function of providing melody. A main attribute of Kwadrofonik's musical repertoire is the spontaneity and precision of their technique. The musicians devote much of their efforts to improvisation and experimentation in order to further explore and maximize the musical potential of the piano and percussion ensemble.
From Bartók to Zych
By 2008 the band released their debut album Folklove, distributed by Polish Radio, for which the musicians received the Folkowy Fonogram Roku award given to the best folk album of the year.
The band creates original compositions merging their unconventional musical style with pieces by Béla Bartók, George Crumb and Rolf Wallin, while composing music for bands such as Wojciech Ziemowit Zych's Różnia which premiered at the Warszawska Jesień Festival in 2010. Kwadrofonik also uses its instrumental interpretations to recreate works such as Święto wiosny / The Rite of Spring - a symphony by Igor Strawiński which premiered in the dual piano and percussion form in 2008. Other interpretations include Karol Szymanowski's Mazurki and Harnasie , which premiered in 2007.
The band cooperates with a cellist Andrzej Bauer and composer Cezary Duchnowski. Together, they perform Witold Lutosławski’s Cello Concerto in a version for cello, two prepared pianos, percussion and electronics. They also work with with jazz vocalist Dorota Miśkiewicz, with whom they arranged new adaptations of Lutosławski’s songs based on the lyrics of Julian Tuwim.
The natural connotation of this piece as a children music was a great challenge for us – said Kwadrofonik’s Bartłomiej Wąsik in the interview for the T-Mobile Music – We wondered how to approach them. Shall we treat it seriously or keep on remembering that it is not the music for adults? We didn’t want them to sound childish because children immediately know when you are not 100% honest; they are the most demanding audience. This is why there was no place for excuses.
Awards and Recordings
That same year, Kwadrofonik was honoured with the prestigious Special Award at the third Svetozar Stracina European Broadcasting Union Competition in Bratislava. The award was granted for innovation and avant-gardism infused with tradition. It was the first of its kind in the history of the competition. In the same year, Kwadrofonik could be heard on BBC3's radio program Late Junction.
In 2010 they presented the project Byłem tu. Fryderyk (I Was Here. Fryderyk), which is a musical collage inspired by Chopin’s pieces, traditional music and contemporary performance techniques. During the Warsaw Autumn’s Festival of Contemporary Music they played a monumental composition Różnia by Wojciech Ziemowit Zych, written especially for Kwadrofonik.
The group has toured in Poland and abroad. In 2010 they performed in Ireland, Denmark, Canada, Asia, USA and South America. In the 2010/2011 season, they performed at the Berlin Philharmonic Hall, Izumi Hall (Osaka), Beijing, Polish National Philharmonic Hall, Carnegie Hall and Chicago Symphony Center. In 2014 the band are working on their adaptation of 10 pieces by Polish composers within the framework of the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage project Kolekcje (Collections) and, are preparing for recording of the new CD comprising of Szymanowski’s mazurkas.
Autor: Anna Iwanicka-Nijakowska, marzec 2011, aktualizacje: AG, styczeń 2014, FL marzec 2014, Translated by Marcin Tworkowski, April 2011, updated by W.O., March 2014.