String Overture (dir. Wojciech Michniewski)
began working on a “reform” of his music in the late 1940s. The neoclassical
style of his previous works had ceased to attract the composer, who devoted
himself to experiments. His first attempts focused on eight-tone sequences with
a specific, regular structure, which he used to build chords and melodic lines.
These experiments led to the composition of the Overture for Strings in
Though the composition is another example of neoclassicism, the use of the eight-tone groups make it rather original, as do the facts that the work is full of many internal links and is extremely concise. Puzzled, the conductor Grzegorz Fitelberg said that “the Overture is a miniature human being preserved in spirit”.
Events occur so quickly in the piece that listeners can easily become disoriented. Before listening to it, it is worth becoming familiar with its “plot”.
The action begins with the introduction of a four-note motif that will later reappear many times. The first theme is given by a solo cello against the background of violas and the other cellos; the second emerges after a lively link presented by nearly the full ensemble, with only the double basses silent. The presentation of these themes is followed by a vast, complex episode in which both ideas undergo transformations, then return in reverse order. The Overture ends with a powerful orchestral chord that, however, sounds more like a suspension of the action than its conclusion.
This is what the audience felt once after a performance of the work. There was no applause after the final chord. The conductor “raised” the orchestra in complete silence therefore and, somewhat confused, left the stage.