Symphony No. 4 “Tansman-Episodes” op. 85
Recording not available.
After the international success of Górecki’s Symphony No. 3 in the mid-1990s, the musical world awaited his next piece of symphonic music. Years passed, the composer confirmed that the work was in progress and the premiere was scheduled for April 2010 in London. But eventually nothing came out of it and no one saw the completed composition before Górecki’s death.
It turned out, however, that the symphony really existed. The composer’s daughter found it in the form of a finished, abbreviated score – that is a piano transcription with precise dispositions for the orchestration and with dynamic and tempo signatures. Following his father’s indications, the composer’s son, Mikołaj, wrote out the full score. Most likely Górecki’s Symphony No. 4 “Tansman-Episodes” will be performed for the first time in 2014.
The link between this symphony and the composer Alexandre Tansman, indicated by the title, may seem surprising. Górecki’s music is very different from the strict French-neoclassical style of the eminent Pole who resided in Paris between the two world wars. The inspiration appears to have come from Łódź, from Andrzej Wendland, director of the International Festival and Competition of Musical Personalities named for Tansman.Wendland regularly addressed Górecki with subtle requests for at least a brief piece related to Tansman’s work and person (the basic principle of thefestival’s commissions). Wendland’s contacts with the composer continued for years with, apparently, no palpable results – though during each meeting Górecki eagerly listened to tales about Tansman, most likely looking for inspiration for his would-be work.
And indeed, though the commission from the Łódź festival was never formalised, the composer used those “conversations about Tansman” to create a new full-scale symphony, officially commissioned by three great international institutions: the London Philharmonic Orchestra, the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the organisers of the ZaterdagMatinee concert series in Amsterdam. Thus far we only know that the composition is about 38 minutes long, consisting of four parts marked only by numbers, and that its character is radically different from Symphony No. 3. The composer encoded selected letters from Alexandre Tansman’s surname in the musical material of his piece.