last of the Musiquettes was written
in 1970, after two important orchestral works: Old Polish Music and Canticum
graduum. Górecki returned to chamber music at the request of Zygmunt
Krauze, leader of the ensemble Warsztat Muzyczny (Music Workshop) specialising
in new works. For many years, Warsztat Muzyczny performed compositions
dedicated to the ensemble, contributing significantly to new-music repertoire
composed for its atypical line-up of trombone, clarinet, cello and piano. Górecki’s
final Musiquette was written for that
is hard to believe while listening to the piece that it is performed by only
four musicians. The very first bars sound tremendously powerful. The explosive,
intensive sound of the first movement’s sections, separated by rests, calls for
enormous emotional involvement on the part of the performers. The second
movement brings a sharp contrast, introducing the atmosphere of litany-like,
repetitive, nearly religious contemplation. It is based on calm repeated chords
in the piano and subtle melodic motifs developing above those chords. Górecki would
soon use this bipartite structure on a much larger scale in one of his
masterpieces, the Symphony No. 2 “Copernican”.
subtitle of this Musiquette – a “trombone
concerto” – is a bit subversive, as the trombone is not privileged in any way
in the sound material of the piece. But the role of the trombonist is indeed
exceptional: It is that of the conductor who leads the whole ensemble.
Interestingly, since the worldwide success of Symphony No. 3, La Musiquette
No. 4 has been Górecki’s most frequently performed piece.