Teatr Wielki - Polish National Opera

Gates of the Night. Festival La Folle Journée de Varsovie

Laurens Weinhold violin
Marcus Michelin cello
Sinfonia Varsovia – string section
Jean-Pierre Wallez conductor

Marcus Paus Portals – Double-Concerto for violin, cello and string orchestra (2023) [20’] *
Samuel Barber
Adagio for strings [9’]
Edward Elgar Serenade in E minor for string orchestra, Op. 20 [13’]
I. Allegro piacevole
II. Larghetto
III. Allegretto

* world premiere

Samuel Barber is most remembered for his wistful, deeply melancholic Adagio for Strings – even though he authored numerous other remarkable compositions, e.g. Knoxville: Summer of 1915. And yet, it is hardly a surprise: The Adagio is indeed an exceptionally powerful and emotional piece. In early 21st century there was even a poll conducted by BBC radio in which Barber’s masterpiece came first and was named “the saddest classical work in history”. Nowadays, hardly anyone remembers that originally the Adagio was the second movement of the String Quartet in B minor, op.11.

The elegiac mood of Barber’s work makes it akin to many British compositions. The second, slow-paced movement of Edward Elgar’s Serenade in E minor is slightly less melancholic, yet just as romantic. The first movement has a faster pace and a certain sway to its rhythm: some call it a lullaby, others think of it as an aubade, a song about lovers separating at dawn. Its airiness corresponds beautifully with the finale, which is just as idyllic and melancholic.

How will Portals by contemporary Norwegian composer Marcus Paus sound amid such company of works? Well, that is the beauty of new compositions: one has to go to a concert to find out.

Dominika Micał, “Ruch Muzyczny”


In his series of paintings “Icons”, the Norwegian artist Kjell Pahr-Iversen attempts “to create works of enormous significance to the viewer. An image that responds.”

To me, these mysterious images seem almost like metaphysical thresholds or doorways. I do not know where they lead, but they are imbued with an intense presence that only becomes amplified by motivic repetition from image to image.

And in Portals, my new double concerto for violin, cello & strings, I have attempted something similar: In it, the exploration and reiteration of a very clearly defined thematic material show us glimpses of ever-changing musical scenography.

This work furthers a preoccupation that I have for heightened expressivity and motivic stringency, unfolding within a framework of a self-referential mosaic.

As such, Portals is comprised of a series of destilled movements all based on the same lyrical theme, fragments of which then form new thematic identities and musical situations throughout the work.

Marcus Paus


Ministerstwo Kultury i Nauki

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