After the success of Edward Elgar’s Carillon – a work written for charities helping war-torn Belgium, Emil Młynarski asked the composer to create a piece for a charity concert he was organising, supporting the fund of the General Relief Committee for Aid to the Victims of the War in Poland. The resulting Polonia, Op. 76 is a piece filled with Polish national spirit thanks to quotations from numerous patriotic songs and themes from the oeuvre of Fryderyk Chopin and Ignacy Jan Paderewski, to whom the work was dedicated.
In the next piece, we can hear echoes of highlander music, yet not in the actual number of quotations, but resulting from the composer’s invention, who had soaked up the atmosphere of Podhale thanks to his long stays in the Zakopane Villa ‘Atma’. Violin Concerto No. 2, Op. 61 by Karol Szymanowski was commissioned by outstanding violinist Paweł Kochański, author of the cadenza. Completely different from his first concerto, it surprises with its two-movement structure, in which the cadenza occupies a central position.
In order to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Jean Sibelius’ birth, the Scottish Chamber Orchestra asked Finnish composer Lotta Wennäkoski to write a piece for the occasion. Her work, entitled Verdigris, was inspired by two compositions by Sibelius, En saga and Andante Festivo.
En saga – as Jean Sibelius wrote – is one of his most personal works, a picture of the composer’s state of mind. However, the colourful instrumentation has prompted the listeners to look for hidden meanings. Maintained in the form of an energetic rondo, Lemminkäinen’s Return – the last poem of the four-movement Lemminkäinen suite – tells the story of the return of a protagonist of the Finnish epic Kalevala to his homeland.
Edward Elgar: Polonia, symphonic prelude op. 76
Karol Szymanowski: Violin concerto no. 2 op. 61
Lotta Wennäkoski: Verdigris
Jean Sibelius: En Saga
Jean Sibelius: Lemminkäinen’s Return