From its flyer I am instantly intrigued by Poems. The performers’ faces are halved against a black background that is highlighted in multi-coloured techno lights. It looks like a unique expression of modern classical music. And it is.
Pianist Joanna Wicherek and soprano Michal Slawecki perform during their recital called Poems, in Grahamstown on 9 July 2015, at the National Arts Festival. The Polish duo has been collaborating for the last eight years and has successfully been performing the most significant Polish contemporary music, written for a male soprano and the piano. (Photo: CuePix/Mia van der Merwe)
Joanna Wicherek, who won a 2014 Ovation Award, returns this year with Michal Slawecki for the South African premiere of Poems, an innovative recital which includes an audio-visual element.
Wicherek and Slawecki celebrate music written by renowned contemporary Polish composers, Witold Lutoslawski and Piotr Perkowski, for male soprano and piano, as well as a portrayal of old Polish folk stories, Japanese poetry and some of William Shakespeare’s sonnets, all of which inspired these composers.
Without any microphones, the bold and haunting sound resonated in the Beethoven Room, transporting me through realms of emotion with a pitch that was beautifully unusual to the ear.
Slawecki embodies the music wholeheartedly, while Wicherek’s imaginative tonal technique, sensitive dynamics, and physical relationship with the piano delivered a memorable performance with an avant-garde twist on classical music.
Cue student reporter
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