The history of many great solo works is often related to the friendship between the composers and musicians. Brahms’s imagination was stimulated by the sound of Richard Mühlfeld's clarinet, Chopin met the cello thanks to the play of Auguste Franchomme, and Szymanowski's violin works were created in close collaboration with Paweł Kochanski.
As for Karol Szymanowski, this program in the Mysterioso series includes transcriptions for the cello by the composer of “Harnasie”, and not the original compositions meant for this instrument. How is it possible that the cello did not come to the master during the creation process? Kazimierz Wiłkomirski's recollections may offer an explanation. In the 1930s he suggested the modernist artist write a composition for cello – a concerto, sonata or miniature. The answer back was surprising. “Well..” – as Wiłkomirski put it: "Szymanowski replied with his borderland singing accent: Well sir ... I ... I do not feel the cello".
At first, Wiłkomirski's conversation did not bring any results. It was only in 1982 that Wiłkomirski (a famous cellist and composer) came up with the idea of a cello transcription of the Violin Sonata Op. 9. As noted by the author of this transcription, after just a few technical changes, the violin part was easily adapted to the specificity of the cello without changing the "content of the music".
During Saturday's concert the album "Works for cello and piano" will be presented, which features a transcription of Szymanowski’s Violin Sonata Op. 9 (in Wiłkomirski's arrangement). Tomasz Szczęsny, soloist of the concert (lecturer at the Academy of Art in Szczecin) and Andrzej Orkisz (also a recognized cellist and lecturer), have also developed Prelude Op. 1 No 1 "U jeziorecka" and "Zarzyjze, kuniu" from the series "Kurpiowski Songs" Op. 58, "Swan" Op. 7, the song "Over me flying in the sapphire of the sea" Op. 11 No. 3, Etude in B flat minor Op. 4 No. 3 and the song Roksana from the second act of the opera "King Roger".
It's amazing how natural Szymanowski's music is when wearing a cello robe. Perhaps Kazimierz Wiłkomirski was right when, during the transcription work, he stated: "Szymanowski didn’t even know how well he felt the cello!”.
Mikołaj Rykowski PhD
Musicologist and clarinetist, doctorate, and associate at the Department Music Theory at the Paderewski Academy of Music in Poznań. Author of a book and numerous articles devoted to the phenomenon of Harmoniemusik – the 18th-century practice of brass bands. Co-author of the scripts "Speaking concerts" and author of the spoken introductions to philharmonic concerts in Szczecin, Poznań, Bydgoszcz and Łódź.