Portrait of Peter Paul Koprowski thumbtack

Sinfonia Mistica

Duration: 13 minutes

Written: 1993

Premiered: January 30, 1994

Esprit Orchestra

Conductor: Alex Pauk

Instrumentation:

  • Flute
  • Oboe
  • Clarinet
  • Bassoon
  • Horn
  • Percussion (Vibraphone, Xylophone, Glockenspiel)
  • Strings

Movements:

2 movements

Background:

At the outset of my work on Sinfonia Mystica, I made a conscious decision to part with the complexity of my then recent orchestral works (i.e. Sinfonia Concertante, Sinfonia da Camera, Winterlude).

My Polish roots offered me a guiding hand into the world of melody and harmony, as well as the world of lyricism inherited from Chopin (whose music I so admired during my early years).

Chopin's wasn't the only influence, as I also grew up within the world of the Warsaw Autumn Festival and the sound of the modern Polish School of composition.

Three of my early works resonated in my memory and assisted me in shaping my thoughts: In Memoriam Karol Szymanowski (1963), Piano Sketches (1964), and String Quartet (1967), written at the tender age of sixteen, seventeen, and twenty respectively. These three works, which are still performed with considerable regularity, coincided with my attraction to the Arts and Philosophy of that splendid decade. Of particular interest to me and my friends were the works of Jean-Paul Sartre, Samuel Beckett, and Jean Cocteau. From this background emerged Sinfonia Mystica.

This thirteen-minute work is scored for a small orchestra consisting of single winds, horn, percussion (three instruments only), and strings divided into various groups. The two movements divide into two and three sections respectively. Elements of geometry are also employed and the musical events are not without a touch of symbolism. The row used in this composition had already been used on several other occasions (Sonnet for Laura, Flute Concerto, and Woodwind Quintet). While the tonal soundscape centres on chromaticism and strategically positioned clusters, it does not shy away from triads. Throughout the work the minor third acts as a mediator between the "tonal" and "a-tonal" elements.

Sinfonia Mystica was commissioned by Esprit Orchestra and was made possible through the financial assistance of the Laidlaw Foundation.