Polish repertory played by musicians who know the score
By By Mike Giuliano
Nov 07, 2013 | 6:45 AM
If you are not familiar with the Meccorre String Quartet, you are not alone. This Polish classical music group is coming to Columbia as part of its first tour of North America. It performs for the Candlelight Concert Society on Saturday, Nov. 9, at 8 p.m. in Howard Community College's Smith Theatre.
Formed in 2007, the group already has done extensive European touring and hence seems primed to bring a satisfying program to audiences on this side of the Atlantic Ocean.
The upcoming program promises to be well-balanced in terms of the quartet repertory.
Taking listeners back to the string quartet repertory's 18th-century classical origins, the Meccorre will perform Franz Joseph Haydn's String Quartet in B minor, Op. 33, No. 1. The piece has been called Haydn's "Russian" quartet, because the Austrian composer dedicated it to a Russian duke. It received its premiere in Vienna in 1781. Haydn once commented upon the "thematic elaboration" found in the piece, which will prompt listeners to contemplate how the musical parts relate to the whole.
Moving into the more romantic sound that classical music assumed in the 19th century, the Meccorre will be doing German composer Robert Schumann's Quartet in A Major, Op. 41, No. 1. Composed in 1842, this piece is notable for its lyricism.
Acknowledging its Polish identity, the Meccorre also performs works by two Polish composers.
Karol Szymanowski (1882-1937) is represented on the program by his Quartet No. 2. This 1927 composition reflects stylistic influences that include such classical composers as Wagner, Strauss, Debussy and Ravel, but listeners also will hear the influence of Polish folk music.
Born in 1933, Krzysztof Penderecki is represented by his Quartet No. 3. This piece, which also is known by the title "Leaves from an Unwritten Diary," thematically reflects such mid-20th-century historical events as the German occupation of Poland during World War II.
Penderecki is no stranger to the United States. He taught at Yale University, and, on a local note, he conducted a concert by the Warsaw Sinfonia at Temple Oheb Shalom in Baltimore City in 1995. Penderecki, who lives in Warsaw, worked directly with the Meccorre String Quartet as it learned his Quartet No. 3.
The members of the Meccorre are violinists Aleksandra Bryla and Wojciech Koprowski, violist Michal Bryla, and cellist Karol Marianowski.
As postgraduates of the Fryderyk Chopin University of Music in Warsaw, these four musicians worked with pianist Alfred Brendel on the interpretation of Beethoven's music. The Meccorre's debut CD, featuring music by Beethoven and Mozart, was released this year.
Additional professional training in recent years has had the group working with the Artemis Quartet of Berlin University of the Arts.
Their education and experience have been paying off. The group won prizes at the Paolo Borciani and Max Reger International chamber music competitions; and was invited to participate in the Wigmore Hall International String Competition in 2012.
The Meccorre also directs an international chamber music festival called Q'arto Mondi that takes place in Poland. Financial support for such ventures is provided by cultural organizations including Young Poland and also the Polish Ministry of Culture and National Heritage.
Meccorre String Quartet performs Saturday, Nov. 9, at 8 p.m., at Howard Community College's Smith Theatre, 10901 Little Patuxent Parkway, in Columbia. Tickets are $32, $30 for seniors, $12 for students ages 18-24, and free for ages 7-19 when accompanied by a paid adult or senior. Call 410-997-2324 or go to http://www.candlelightconcerts.org.