• Blecharz, Stańczyk + ‘Górecki’ at Huddersfield

For the second year running, the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival (18-27 November) has a Polish strand. Last year, the HCMF featured music by Jagoda Szmytka, Agata Zubel, Zbigniew Karkowski and Tomasz Sikorski, among others.  For 2016, the focus is on two young (living) Polish composers and one late-lamented composer in a new guise.


Wojtek Blecharz (photo credit: Krzysztof Bieliński)

The festival ends with a live performance of Górecki’s Third Symphony by the American saxophonist Colin Stetson and his ensemble, released on vinyl, CD and digital earlier this year.  Stetson’s ‘reimagining’ under the title Sorrow may not appeal to those for whom the original is sacrosanct, but neither is it the first – nor, I suspect, the last – version to reshape the audioscape of Górecki’s most famous piece.

Marcin Stańczyk (b.1977) is a prominent member of a generation of young composers who are breaking all sorts of boundaries observed by previous generations of Polish composers who in their 30s also broke moulds.  His orchestral Sighs won the Takemitsu Prize in 2013 and in recent years he has developed a fascination, like his teacher Zymunt Krauze, with the paintings of the mid-century avantgardist Wladysław Strzemiński.  His some drops… (2016), given its world premiere a month ago at the Sacrum Profanum Festival in Kraków by the same forces as at HCMF on 18 November, features the trumpet wizardry of Marco Blaauw.

The performance of the other new work – a world premiere – will take place in the soaring angularities of The Hepworth, Wakefield.  It is Body-opera (2016) by Wojtek Blecharz (b.1981).  Blecharz is one of the most laceratingly inquisitive of composers.  The first performances of his opera-installation Transcryptum (2013) took place behind the scenes at Warsaw’s Grand Theatre and his Soundwork was premiered last month at the innovative TR Warszawa. (As I write, Blecharz is participating as a living installation – composing four hours a day over two weeks – in Ari Benjamin Meyers’ Who is afraid of sol la ti? at the Hamburger Bahnhof-Museum für Gegenwart.)  Body-opera at The Hepworth on 20 November promises to be a real ear/eye-opener.

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