"Hats off gentlemen, here comes the genius!" This is how Robert Schumann presented fellow musician Fryderyk Chopin in an article for the "Allgemeine Musikalische Zeitung" in 1831 after his debut performance in Germany. And today, 180 years after the legendary concert in Leipzig, the two geniuses of romantism are brought together once again with a futuristic spin. Elettrovoce's Agata Zubel and Cezary Duchnowski pay tribute to Chopin with plenty of admiration and humility, but with an intimate and empathetic creative angst of sorts...
Agata Zubel and Cezary Duchnowski. Photo: Tomasz Kulak
"Hats off gentlemen, here comes the genius!" This is how Robert Schumann presented fellow musician Fryderyk Chopin in an article for the "Allgemeine Musikalische Zeitung" in 1831 after his debut performance in Germany. And today, 180 years after the legendary concert in Leipzig, the two geniuses of romantism are brought together once again with a futuristic spin
Music of both composers remains relevant, despite ever-changing trends, aesthetics and conventions, holding a unique presence in the collective consciousness of music lovers around the world. First-generation artists of the 21st Century - Agata Zubel
and Cezary Duchnowski
- pay tribute to Chopin
with plenty of admiration and humility, but with an intimate and empathetic creative angst of sorts.
Chopin is rarely considered a subject vocalists can relate to, unless they consider their own voice as an instrument. Agata Zubel is indeed such an artist: she operates her voice on levels and scales one would think impossible for the human body to produce. The other half of the duet ElettroVoce is Cezary Duchnowski, a composer and pianist, who also treats his craft in an unusual way: his use of computer generated sounds go beyond the simple keyboard instrument as it processes on a real time basis the actual sound of the acoustic instrument. The duo tries to put a new perspective on Chopin's music, not necessarily trying to modernise it, but to refer to these universal emotions and symbols they experience through the influence of the composer's works.
Agata Zubel's unique artistic temperament translates into fantastic vocal effects. Her partner Duchnowski works to uncover a new potential in primary properties of music not overwhelmed by non-musical content. In this way, the soprano singer and instrumentalist not only create a distinctive microcosm of sound, but they also invent new ways of creating sound. Thus, ElettroVoce's aim is to reach the pure essence of music and form it at its starting point. That moment is built in the context of what is music's conditio sine qua non: the sound, along with its individual character. The duo's combination of the voice and computer takes the listener s to an other reality. Zubel's voice, surprisingly, blends naturally and within the digital score. In some selected compositions ElettroVoce perform with a classical piano, a traditional instrument suddenly presented in a completely different way.
As Agata Zubel and Cezary Duchnowski describe their homage project as such:
Chopin was an inspiration to us. Our choice of his compositions has a double motive: the voice and the piano, as the lyrical and melodic character of his cantilenas is obvious, and the piano is the most Chopinesque of all instruments. Even though we as contemporary listeners, descendants and heirs to musical tradition would like to believe that if Chopin was to choose his favourite instrument today, he would pick an other medium: the computer, which totally subjects itself to human's sensitivity. Chopin's Preludes inspired us to start our own research. We don't try to improve Chopin, we don't illustrate his music either, we don't attribute new legends to it. We just drown into his music and reproduce the feelings we experience.
"From Old Tales, Old Preludes" ("Aus alten Märchen - aus alten Präludien") takes place on October 20, 2010 at the Neues Museum in Berlin, performed by Agata Zubel (vocals) and Cezary Duchnowski (piano/computer) with special guest Bartłomiej Wąsik (piano). Programme features:
- Robert Schumann - 4 pieces from the cycle "Kinderszenen" ("Child Scenes") op. 15 on piano solo: "Von fremden Ländern und Menschen" ("On Foreign Countries and People"), Fürchtenmachen ("Fears"), "Kind im Einschlummern" ("The Child Falls Asleep"), "Der Dichter spricht" ("When the Poet Speaks");
- Robert Schumann - 5 pieces from the cycle "Dichterliebe" ("The Poet's Love") op. 48 on voice and piano;
- Robert Schumann - Intermezzo with "Faschingsschwank aus Wien" ("The Carnival in Vienna") op. 26;
- Fryderyk Chopin / Robert Schumann, theme Es-Dur with op. posth;
- Alterludia - paraphrases of preludes and songs by Chopin in electro-acoustic versions.
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