Warsaw Autumn 2006 – IX

We ended up going to three concerts yesterday and not getting back until almost 3:00AM this morning! A very good day of concerts. The first concert at 4:30pm at the Witold Lutoslawski Polish Radio Concert Studio had a very interesting line up, as I was looking forward to hearing the Murail and the new version of Derive 2 by Pierre Boulez. The concert was a little problematic however as it seemed they decorated the room like a rock concert and filmed it for television (I’m assuming for television), which introduced a number of issues. The pieces performed were:

  • Tristan Murail – Winter Fragments
  • Anna Zawadzka-Golosz – The Suite of Space
  • Pierre Boulez – Dérive 2 (2006 version)

Some notes I took at the concert:

Murail – very nice piece, electronics seemed a little out of balance (loud), reverb felt a little thick, TV producer talked a little too loudly especially at very last moment of piece (people chastised him afterwards), wonderful sound world, the ring-modulated piano was a nice sound (at least, it sounded like it was ring modulated)

Zawadzka-Golosz – lots of notes but not much of an identity, reminded me of improv where people do not listen to each other, frenetic, wasn’t drawn in, realized that all the backdrops they used for the TV production killed the acoustics of the hall (didn’t notice earlier as the previous piece was amplified)

Boulez – even more notes, endless, very rhythmic and angular, I very much liked when the ideas transform between instruments in a sort of timbral exchange (i.e. violin to oboe); piece felt mechanical and constructed; reminded me of the idea I’ve had that “complex actions yield simple results” and vice versa; had a sort of minimalist drive in that a lot of things going on at the eighth and sixteenth-note level but since the timing of phrases were so angular and periodicity purposefully hidden (from the program notes), the perception of time seemed to only have one layer at the very fast tempo making it very exhausting to hear

The concert had a rock show setup: the first piece had really bright blue lights that were very distracting and reminded me of the lights on the space ship in “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”, the second piece had more subdued red lighting but then I realized the backdrops had killed the acoustics, and the last piece had the same lights as the first but in bright red. The performers seemed a bit tight with all of the microphones and cameras around and I felt especially bad for the pianist as there was a camera on long arm that would move within inches of her hands or face or to above her head (at one point in the second piece it actually hit the piano as it moved). I’m sure it will be mastered for a broadcast and will sound great for that, but I was a little disappointed that hall sounded so dry live.

The repsonse to the Boulez seemed a little lukewarm as the audience clapping was moderate and not enough to call the conductor back out. Most of the audience left quickly to the metro to get to the next concert across town at the Teatr Wielki for the next concert…


  1. Hi,
    I am an electronic music composer from Italy.
    I played Winter Fragments three times, so I can say that the piano is not ring modulated.
    It’s the midi keyboard that play sampled sound from gong and/or bells together with piano chords, so the mix sounds like a modulated piano.

  2. Hi Mauro,

    Thank you very much for letting me know about the piano chords and the synthesizer! I wasn’t quite sure if it was ring-modulated and glad to know now how it was done. Thanks also for posting here as now I know of your site!


  3. To deal with the query re TV recording: I have just watched the perfomance of Derive 2 on the Polixh state satellite TV channel ‘TV Kultura’ which I can get in the UK. Thank you Steven for putting your views on the piece online. Given the effort the performers must have put into playing the piece (which lasts almost 50 minutes) I can only assume that the applause was weak because some of the audience could not tell when the piece had finished. All credit to Polish TV for making it available to a wider audience.


  4. Hi Phillip,

    Glad to hear that you got to see the performance on television! I’m curious to listen to the piece again to see what I’d think on a second listen as well as to see how much mixing they might have done for the television recording. I’m sure if I can ever manage to find a copy of the broadcast to watch that it would be a somewhat surreal event to have seen all the cameras live then to see what got made from it.

    Thanks for dropping by and leaving your comments!

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