• WQXR Q2: A new Polish marathon

The New York classical music station WQXR Q2 is about to launch another focus on Polish music.  In January last year, I reported on its intensive, week-long ‘Muzyka Nowa: A Celebration of Contemporary Polish Music’.  On that occasion, the results were mixed, as I wrote at the time: Polish Music ‘Muzyka Nowa’, WQXR ★★★✩✩.  This year, the ‘Celebrating Poland’ focus seems more selective and is split up over a longer period.


There are three 24-hour marathons: this coming weekend (Friday 25 October), six days later (Thursday 31 October) and on Tuesday 12 November.  The first date includes a ‘live performance stream’ of music by Penderecki and there is a final event on Friday 13 December, this time a live relay of music by Lutosławski.

Friday 25 October
The first marathon promises an examination of ‘the strength and diversity of contemporary classical music from Poland’.  I certainly hope that the programmers broaden the range beyond familiar names and play more music by composers now in their 20s, 30s and 40s than the few examples that were included last year.  It will be very interesting to see how much music written in the last ten years is included to illustrate what is really happening in contemporary Polish music.  The programme of the Penderecki live relay – Cadenza for viola (1984), String Quartet no.3 (2008), Capriccio for cello (1968), Clarinet Quartet (1993) and Sextet (2000) – gives slight cause for hope in this regard.

Thursday 31 October
Polish music will form part of what is billed as a ‘Halloween Scarathon’.  Guess which pieces/composers…

Tuesday 12 November
This is the most promising of WQXR Q2’s offerings.  It will examine ‘the full spectrum of and story behind Lutosławski’s contributions to 20th-century classical music’.  Even more assuringly, it will include seven one-hour episodes curated by Steven Stucky, so real authority and insight will be brought to the proceedings.  Esa-Pekka Salonen will also make an appearance.

Friday 13 December
Steven Stucky resurfaces as a composer in the second live relay, from Symphony Space with the American Contemporary Music Ensemble.  The programme consists of Lutosławski’s Sacher Variation for cello (1975), Bukoliki in the arrangement cello for viola and cello (1952/62) and the String Quartet (1964).  Stucky’s contribution consists of Dialoghi for solo cello (2006) and Nell’ombra, nella luce for string quartet (1999-2000).

You can catch these online broadcasts by accessing any page of WQXR and clicking on the Q2 Music tab at the top (the play/pause tab is to the left).  Schedules and playlists can be accessed by selecting the relevant tabs on the next bar below.  No specific timings were available when this post was uploaded, but as NY time is 5/6 hours behind UK/European time WQXR Q2’s evening events will be in the small hours this side of the Atlantic.

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