Eugeniusz Knapik (b. 1951)

Started by Maciek, April 27, 2007, 03:11:06 PM

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One of the best composers in Poland today, and he doesn't even get a page on the USC PMC site? I was very disappointed to discover that.

He is the author of an operatic trilogy (The Minds of Helena Troubleyn) written for the Opera la Monnaie in Brussels. A large chunk of the third part was given a concert performance in Warsaw a couple of years ago and I was mightily impressed - a wonderful, very romantic work, full of high strung emotions. These pieces were written and staged in collaboration with Jean Fabre. Knapik has also written four ballets for him to stage.

Knapik's chamber works aren't bad either. I especially like a piece called Hymn for clarinet, trombone, cello and piano.

He's a member of what is sometimes referred to as the "Stalowa Wola Generation" (Silesian composers who were often featured at a contemporary music festival held in Stalowa Wola). They are also called the "Generation of '51" which is probably the reason why his String Quartet ended on this disc:

(released by Polskie Radio Katowice - I think the disc is still in print but their recordings are always difficult to find... :-\)

Given his relatively high profile, I'm surprised only a few of his pieces have been recorded (and nothing from that great opera cycle!). Another CD with one of his compositions is this one from DUX:

(the piece is called Corale, interludio e aria)
The performers are very good and the disc is overall excellent.

Anyone else know this composer?



Quote from: MrOsa on April 27, 2007, 03:11:06 PM
Anyone else know this composer?

Now I do!  ;D  Thanks for the introduction...



Well, that's a start, isn't it? ;)

Forgot to mention that he studied composing with none other but Henryk Mikołaj Górecki!

What I'm dreaming of is for someone to finally get one of his works staged in Warsaw (or anywhere else in Poland for that matter)! ::) I found that opera (the title is La liberta chiama la liberta, BTW) really impressive and moving (and I usually don't even like those long-winded neoromantic works!).


A fairly recent (1999) and quite popular piece by Knapik: Tha' Munnot Waste No Time for 3 pianos and clarinet. The piece has something to do with The Secret Garden (hence the title). Performers are: Esztenyi, Mironiuk, Knapik (the composer) and Romanski (clarinet).


File-Size: 38,94 Mb

Lilas Pastia

It's a substantial, very good piece, I enjoyed it a lot. Definitely recommended.


Finally, a chance for me to aquaint you with Knapik the romantic songwriter. Below is a zip file containing the song cycle Up into the Silence. 4 lavishly romantic songs that last more than an hour. Fans of late Penderecki will appreciate this, even though Knapik, IMO, has got much better hold of form. And his pieces don't all sound as variations on each other. And he's a much better orchestrator - his textures are never as heavy as Penderecki's. And he has melodic invention (something Pendercki could never claim). Surprisingly for such a long work, the following recording seems to have only one glitch (in song no. 2).

Here's some more info on the songs:

The second one (Unter den berstenden Eisspiegeln) is to a text by Jean Fabre. The song is in fact an excerpt (an entire scene) from Knapik's opera La libertá chiama la libertá (1994). The others are fully original works: The first song (love is more thicker) was written in 1996. It is to the texts of two poems by e.e.cummings: love is more thicker than forget and up into the silence.

The third and fourth songs were written in the years 1999-2000 and are also to poems by e.e.cummings. The third: now air is air and thing is thing. The fourth: in time's a noble mercy of proportion.

Here's part of the composer's commentary:

When I was starting to work on this piece (this was immediately after completing the operatic trilogy The Minds of Helena Troubleyn) I decided to make love the main and only subject of the entire cycle. I wanted to devote this cycle to love because in my opinion art of recent decades (or actually of the whole of the past century) had marginalized this most important sphere of human senstaion and very important area of human experience. (...) art had concentrated its interest on death and its inseparable sisters: sickness of body and sickness of soul. Abandoned by the artists, left to various kinds of showmen from the "dream factory", put up as an item for sale, love became an unwanted subject in art. Because of this, 20th century art left a very one-sided, incomplete and ultimately not a very true account of human existence.

And here are Knapik's comments on the 4th song which closes the cycle:

In the fourth song in time's a noble mercy of proportion e.e.cummings explores the meaning of time. He is interested in time perceived from a human perspective, a time of human proportions. In the conclusion he points to love (as all your more than eyes tell me) as the only force able to overcome the flowing of time and evanescence. (...) When the poet reaches a point of almost biblical narration (there's time for laughing and a time for crying) - the music stops. The simplest motive imaginable appears, the harmony is cleared. We are engulfed in astonishment understanding that more than all (...) there is a time for timelessness.

The dedicatees of the songs are as follows:
1. Antoni Wit
2. Jean Fabre
3. Andrzej Chlopecki
4. Barbara, the composer's wife

The first two songs were first performed in 1996 in Copenhagen. The last two - in 2000 in Cracow. The whole cycle in its entirety was first performed in Warsaw, during the Warsaw Autumn Festival in 2001 (I was present :D).

Below is a link to a zip file containg mp3s of the whole cycle. There's a typo in the title of the last song (missing "i") - sorry about that, you'll have to correct it yourselves.

Eugeniusz Knapik
Up into the Silence (1996-2000). Four songs for soprano, baritone and symphony orchestra
Izabella Klosinska, soprano
Wojciech Drabowicz, baritone
Polish Radio National Symphony Orchestra
Gabriel Chmura, conductor

1. love is more thicker (e.e.cummings)
2. Unter den berstenden Eisspiegeln (Jean Fabre)
3. now air is air and thing is thing (e.e.cummings)
4. in time's a noble mercy of proportion (e.e.cummings)

File-Size: 98,73 MB


Download, and I'm sure you'll enjoy! ;D