Zbigniew Preisner — Preisner’s Music (1995). The concert recorded 130 metres below ground in the church of Wieliczka, Poland, excavated out of the abandoned salt mine of Cracovia. The Warsaw Symphony Orchestra & The Warsaw Chamber Chorus & Childrens’ Chorus of the Krakow Philharmonic.
“I don’t like going back and doing what I’ve already done, but I had to know whether my music ‘sounded’ as good without a film accompanying it. Did it stand up on its own two feet when removed from its cinematic context? To check this, I chose the Wieliczka salt mine, near Krakow: a secret, mysterious magical place 130 metres below ground. A unique atmosphere with exceptional acoustics. The risk was great though: a subterranean symphony orchestra connected by 400 metres of cables to technical equipment on the ground above.
Anything could have happened. Yet it all went incredibly well. I separated the music into five parts, which I chose in line with my tastes and instincts and which combined into a single ‘suite’. I wanted to produce more than just a concert; I wanted to put on a musical show. The concert was indeed a rite, a ‘mysterium’. My audience and I felt that my music lived its own life, albeit entirely at my command. Far from the studios and the mixing rooms, I rediscovered the soul of the orchestra and, for the first time ever, I heard my music exactly as I imagined it. I will always remember the Wieliczka concert as a unique step forward in the pursuit of my artistic freedom.” —Zbigniew Preisner
If anyone with heart listen to this concert, will never forget it.
Zbigniew Preisner (b. 1955) is Poland’s leading film music composer and is considered to be one of the most outstanding film composers of his generation. For many years Preisner enjoyed a close collaboration with the director Krzysztof Kieslowski and his scriptwriter Krzysztof Piesiewicz. His scores for Kieslowski’s films – Dekalog, The Double Life Of Veronique, Three Colours Blue, Three Colours White and Three Colours Red – have brought him international acclaim. Preisner has scored many feature films including Hector Babenco’s At Play In The Fields Of The Lord, Louis Malle’s Damage, Luis Mandoki’s When A Man Loves A Woman, Agnieszka Holland’s The Secret Garden, Charles Sturridge’s Fairytale: A True Story, Thomas Vinterberg’s It’s All About Love, Jean Becker’s Effroyables jardins, Claude Miller’s Un Secret and Max Färberböck’s Anonyma.
Requiem for my friend, Preisner’s first large-scale work specially written for recording and live performance, is dedicated to the memory of Krzysztof Kieslowski. Originally released on Erato Disques (Warner Classics) in October 1998 the work received its world premiere at the Teatr Wielki, Warsaw, on the 1st October 1998. The album has recently been rereleased on CD and vinyl by Sony Poland. Preisner’s second large-scale work is Silence, Night and Dreams, for orchestra, choir and soloists, based on texts from the Book of Job. The recording features the voice of Teresa Salgueiro (from Madredeus) and was released worldwide on EMI Classics in 2007. The world premiere of the work took place on 4th September 2007 in the Herodion Theatre on the Acropolis in Athens.
Other CD releases include 10 Easy Pieces for Piano, Moje Koledy, Preisner’s Voices and Danse Macabre. In 2005, Preisner was commissioned by David Gilmour to arrange nine of songs on his album On An Island for a 40-piece string orchestra. The album was released worldwide in 2006 and Preisner conducted the string section of the Polish Baltic Philharmonic Orchestra in these arrangements at the last concert on Gilmour’s 2006 tour, at the shipyards in Gdansk, Poland. A live recording and film were made of the event and versions of these have been released in several formats and packages under the title Live In Gdansk. Preisner records and mixes all his film scores and albums at his own studio in Niepolomice, Poland. Recent productions include Earthshine, the second album by the post-rock band Tides From Nebula and two albums by the jazz pianist Leszek Mozdzer, Time and Between Us And The Light.
Among many awards and citations Preisner received the Silver Bear from the Berlin Film Festival in 1997, two Césars from the French Film Academy – one in 1996 for Jean Becker’s Elisa, and one in 1995 for Three Colours Red – and three consecutive citations as the year’s most outstanding composer of film music in The Los Angeles Critics Association Awards of 1991,1992 and 1993. Preisner is a member of the French Film Academy and in 1992 he received the Award of the Minister of Foreign Affairs for outstanding achievements in the presentation of Polish Culture abroad. In October 2008 he was honoured by the International Eurasia Film Festival with an award for his contribution to Cinema and Arts.
Previously on Cinephilia and Beyond:
Many years ago, Krzysztof Kieślowski’s Dekalog changed my stupid little life. The series is Kieślowski’s most acclaimed work, possibly “the best dramatic work ever done specifically for television” and has won numerous international awards, though it was not widely released outside Europe until the late 1990s. In his book Eyes Wide Open, Frederick Raphael reported that, while discussing Eyes Wide Shut, Stanley Kubrick said the Dekalog was the best thing he’d seen in years… and he wished he had made it himself.
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