Hanna Kulenty – Double Cello Concerto

Geplaatst op

On Tuesday, November 27th, Magdalena Bojanowicz and Bartosz Koziak and the Lviv Philharmonic Orchestra will give the world premiere of Hanna Kulenty’s “Double Cello Concerto”. This concert is part of the 1st International Music Festival of Central-Eastern Europe EUFONIE…   

For years Hanna Kulenty has been dealing with the phenomenon of time in music. Music is for her the most perfect language to express this so-called “time” in the most appropriate way. The art she deals with, is an attempt to touch metaphysics. By trying to subdue the phenomenon of time she tries to purify the so-called soul – katarsis and body – emotion.

For her, imitating nature, interpreting nature, e.g. imitating the glissando of a flying plane, imitating the glissando of the wind, interpreting the singing of birds, dolphins, whales, bees, frogs, cicadas, even people and some human deeds is art. Art is perfection in a worthy, noble imitation of nature. Art is perfection in the interpretation of nature.

Art is to touch mysticism and the art is to convey it. Kulenty tries to embrace this cosmos with her human senses, where everything is in its own time, and she only transforms this time, slowing down or accelerating this cosmic nature. And here she shares another conclusion: art is to slow down or accelerate the time of nature. The unrealisation of nature’s time, the unrealisation of nature, the unrealisation of time. This is the art she wants to do by writing subsequent works, like her “DoubleCelloConcerto”.

She presents musical surrealism in this “DoubleCelloConcerto”. Recently she called her music not only “polyphony of space-time”, but also “Musique Surrealistique”. Because she is a composer who consciously connects and will combine individual musical elements in such a way as to change time.

For example, she tries to stretch the melody so that the apparent lack of contact with this melody strikes our subconscious, or she tries to accelerate this melody so that there is no room for any reflection, and only our subconscious guesses to the possible prose of this melody. She changes time for the musical elements. Changes their states.

Hanna Kulenty calls herself a music surrealist, not a conventional surgeon, because she does not “bury” in the convention for the sake of compositional principle or technique, but only “rubbing” against the convention. She is a music surrealist because she conveys to the listener the states and emotional gestures that may accompany the convention, but do not have to. She is more interested in imitating and transforming nature directly than in imitating someone else’s imitation, i.e. convention.

Emotional gestures, which should move, have been known since the beginning of music’s existence and this is what interests her the most. She’s interested in making these gestures unreal and the fact that there are elements of a convention at the same time, such as a “human” melody, is a secondary matter.

She doesn’t “play” with e.g. Baroque, but plays with the emotional state, the energy that can accompany Baroque. Not afraid of emotions, because music is, and perhaps even above all, emotion. That is why she prefers to move rather than bore. And this is precisely the attempt to move, move her musical surrealism, immersed in the polyphony of space-time continuum, she will undertake once again.

With great pleasure, she presents “DoubleCelloConcerto”, which is dedicated to great soloists: Magdalena Bojanowicz and Bartosz Koziak. The title “DoubleCelloConcerto” is deliberately written continuously and in capital letters. It is supposed to suggest the musical trance that Kulenty wants to achieve in this work.

The parts of both cellos throughout the piece, regardless of the changing “themes”, form an inseparable musical tissue that resembles the natural delay of one or the other cello: the signal and the echo of the signal. It does not matter which of the soloists initiates the leading narrative. The soloists exchange both the initiation of the narration and their echoes. Sometimes it is a very short echo, sometimes longer, sometimes the cellos play in a rhythmic unison, so that in a moment they “divide” again more or less. In the culmination of the piece, the cello is gradually added in both parts also electronic delay, which is supposed to strengthen and make even more unreal the already unreal, already existing music material. 

The first (the name is conventionally) “theme” of the song is a simple, calm and nostalgic melody, as if a pop song, maintained on the sound plane, resembling the key of C major. The pop melody rises upwards in a somewhat predictable way. Why is the development of the melody “in a certain sense predictable”? Because by raising the sound tissue upwards, human emotions naturally and physiologically grow as well. Kulenty wants them to grow because she can now cut them off in an unpredictable way and thus control emotions. The unpredictability in this predictability lies in disturbing this nostalgic emotion with a different, violent and surprisingly contrasting emotion.

The second “dam” will be the aggressive, sharp “interludes” of this pop melody, which are based on the Hindu scale, always initiated from the sound of F sharp – this is precisely the contrast. It is never known when the “interlude” will break the calm of the melody and here the main tension of the initial phase of the piece is built up. The specific bitonality of these musical tissues develops for several to several minutes. It accelerates the tempo and pulse. The melody is consistently replaced by “interludes” developing in their virtuoso matter, which finally become the most important. Fortunately, however, the pop melody has “nestled” in the subconscious for good. We are waiting for it all the time. It is supposed to be like that! Will she come back?. For now a secret.

The third “theme” is the rock climax of the song. It is a “gallop” of the cello, which also culminates, with natural delay, and finally also with electronic delay. Against this background also the culminating drums. Total trans? A ritual? Yes. The third theme is also the natural culmination of the second theme. We are waiting for it, we expect it, but we never know when it will happen.

The second theme transforms into the third theme fluently, organically. The structure of music changes from jazz-and-Hindu music to more rock music. The orchestra, in the whole construction of the “overlapping” of these three themes by solo cellos, participates under similar conditions: narration and echo, light and shadow, black-and-white, one would like to say: zero-one….

So, without stops, without division into parts, without a “hold”, we will rush into her cosmos, controlled by her emotions, her compositional skills and her choice of music, which she wants to write and which cannot be imposed on her in any way. So she won’t be “inventing”, but she’ll enjoy her next combinations and permutations of orchestral instruments, the sequences of which have not been exhausted yet for a long time, and which music can restore emotions and give emotions back to the music. 

Through the sounds of the two cellos of the soloists and the orchestra, Kulenty will “sculpt” in her own subconscious, superconscious, sur-conscious… Or, if you prefer, she will continue to discover her sub-reality, over-reality, sur-reality…. – “Musique Surrealistique” – and share it with others. “Musique Surrealistique” is, in Kulenty’s opinion, the future of music, and “DoubleCelloConcerto” is one of the ways of this realization.