Antoni Wit | Playlist

photo courtesy of Antoni Wit

It is with great pleasure that I present this list of pieces by Lutosławski, Górecki, and Penderecki. Not only have I recorded all of these works for Naxos (with hundreds of thousands of copies sold), but I have also conducted their performances many times, and in such culturally remote places as Brazil, Japan, and New Zealand, at that.

And it is not the awards I have received for these recordings, but their public performances that have always been the greatest source of joy to me. These performances would win enthusiastic receptions from audiences, who were often surprised that “contemporary music” — commonly regarded as a challenging art form — could speak to the listener so directly. It is also worth noting that the pieces I have selected were written in different eras; many of them are separated by over fifty years, even though they are the work of a single composer.

What this means is that a master (a title that applies to all three artists mentioned above), even when he changes his style deeply, as was the case with each of our composers, can speak to the hearts and imaginations of audiences, evoking admiration and the highest level of interest, though he may use distant means of expression and an different musical vocabulary. I have performed and recorded pieces in the presence of their composers. It is a very moving experience, but also an educational one. When we perform Beethoven, Brahms, or Dvořák, we cannot ask them what they think about our interpretation. We can, however, compare observations by outstanding living composers with what they wrote in their scores, and both provide excellent material for comparison.

Each of these three masters represents a radically different personality, and the pieces I have selected are sometimes equally distant from each other, which is why listening to them may offer very different and deep experiences. I wish the listeners no less!