Concerto-Cantata Op. 65
The piece consists of four parts differing in type of expression. It opens with a five-minute Recitativo solo of the alto flute, focusing on dark colours and building up the atmosphere of meditation. Arioso is more dramatic, and the soloist is accompanied by the orchestra. A true contrast, however, comes in the third part, Concertino, which is an impetuous, even wild dance, surprising but also carrying the audience away with its rhythmic energy and grotesque, circus-like character. The concerto ends with a serious, spiritual Arioso e corale.
Górecki had already used this juxtaposition of meditative and dynamic sections in his first two string quartets, but in the Concerto-Cantata this polarity is especially striking, as it would be in his Little Requiem for a Certain Polka, composed a year later. Strong expressive contrasts had always been a feature of Górecki’s music; however, this opposition of the musical sacrum and profanum was most distinctly expressed in instrumental works from the late 1980s and early 1990s.
flute part in the Concerto-Cantata is
not exactly virtuosic. Rather, the composer demonstrates the instrument’s
possibilities with respect to sound and expression, particularly in the low,
almost sombre register (hence the use of an alto flute), which, in combination
with a very slow tempo, especially in the opening, places quite unique demands
on the flutist. Carol Wincenc recalled that the first performance of the
concerto in Amsterdam, on 28 November 1993, when she was heavily pregnant, as
“probably the most demanding moment in my whole career as an instrumentalist”.