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Music begins where words end

7 July 2013

Music begins where words end

Lutosławskis life and oeuvre celebrated in Auckland and Christchurch on the centenary of the composer’s birth

Two distinguished soloists, Adrianna Lis on flute and Helen Webby on harp, have come together to present the audiences of Auckland and Christchurch with a rare opportunity to hear beautiful, yet seldom performed live in New Zealand compositions, in a recital celebrating the centenary of the birth of one of the twentieth-century’s most influential musical voices, Witold Lutosławski.

The programme is a treasury of alluring miniature pieces and poignant classical movements arranged for flute and harp.

The title piece, Lutosławski’s Three Fragments, draws on classical poetry in its three movements, Magic, Odysseus on Ithaca, and Presto. The recital will also feature a New Zealand premiere of Roxanna Panufnik’s The Conversation of Prayer for flute solo (2009), an exploration of the lyrical abilities and colours of the flute inspired by Dylan Thomas’s deeply sad but much loved poem.

Panufnik is the daughter of Poland’s famous conductor and composer, Andrzej Panufnik, who shared a life-long friendship with Lutosławski. During the Nazi occupation the two had worked together, playing piano duos in coffee houses in the Polish capital Warsaw, risking their lives performing for a mixed audience of music lovers and resistance fighters, all of whom faced likely imprisonment or death even for attending. After the war, the two musicians followed their separate paths, while staying in close friendship. This enthralling story was captured in BBC Radio 4’s Warsaw Variations which won the highly prestigious Europa Best Radio Music Programme of the Year 2012.

The programme’s another highlight, Princesa de Hadas (Fairy Tale Princess), by the Mexican composer José L. Elizondo, was written in 1996 and commissioned by Argentine poet Patricio Mendez as a tribute to his love. The title of this piece corresponds to a verse from a poem by Mendez, and the musical material is deliberately simple, tonal and lyrical, in an attempt to evoke the innocence and romanticism of the world created by the poet for his fairy tale princess. “I feel honoured to have been involved in the generation of this composition”, says Mendez, “which started as a present for my beloved, but has now transcended its scope to become a great addition to the flute repertory”.

With inspirations ranging from the medieval churches in Burgundy in Andrès’ Narthex, through Spanish flavour in Ibert’s Entr'acte, to African rhytms in Jack Body’s Rainforest, it will be a spectacular yet elegant musical journey.

“I am passionate about New Zealand music and committed to giving it the exposure it deserves in my recordings and live performances” says Lis. As well as Body’s composition, Atthis by Chris Adams (originally from Christchurch) is also included in the programme.

Christchurch Concert info:

Venue: St Andrew’s at Rangi Ruru Presbyterian Church, Merivale

Date: Sunday, 28 July 2013 5.00– 6.00 p.m.

Bookings: 03 980 2204 or

Door sales: cash only


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