A few kilometres from Zakopane in the Tatra Mountains, a simple stele of uncut stone marks the place where one of the most talented Polish composers of his generation was swept away in an avalanche at the age of 32. An advocate of the Young Poland aesthetic movement, which extolled the virtues of an art expressed through imagery freed from tradition, Mieczysław Karłowicz left behind him an intense work which indisputably represents one of the high-points of post-romanticism. His Violin Concerto from 1902 (composed when he was just 26 years old), is clear proof of this. Making a deft departure from the usual concertante style, Karłowicz gave it the narrative and colours of a true symphonic poem, imbued with the pure, limpid air and the sublime bursts of light of those towering mountains where he sought communion with a higher being, at the risk of his own life. If this precursor to the Alpine Symphony is highly evocative of Richard Strauss, it should come as no surprise: he was one of the young Karłowicz’s idols. How then, can we not see in Marta Gardolińska’s decision to choose Death and Transfiguration—a work depicting “the death of an artist” and written by Strauss at the same age that Karłowicz composed his Concerto—a tribute to the young Polish composer who could have been one of the greatest of his era? Yet that era, that Belle Époque brimming with hope and faith in mankind, would ultimately result in the horrors of the First World War. As for Ravel, there can be no doubt he had these ambiguities in mind when he composed La Valse: the incessant swirling between unbridled joy and disconcerting darkness sets forth the uncertain vision of an indecipherable future.
Orchestra of the Opéra national de Lorraine
Bartołomiej « Bartek » Nizioł
Violin concerto in A Major, Opus 8
Death and Transfiguration, Opus 24