Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Krzysztof Komeda - Meine Susse Europaische Haimat - Dichtung und Jazz aus Polen (2012)

Krzysztof Komeda

Krzysztof Komeda - piano
Tomasz Stańko - trumpet
Zbigniew Namysłowski - alto saxophone
Roman Dyląg - bass
Rune Carlsson - drums

Helmut Lohner - reciter
Krzysztof Komeda - all compositions
Karl Dedecius - translations

Meine Susse Europaische Haimat - Dichtung und Jazz aus Polen (2012)

By Dirk Blasejezak

What an album, what a wonderful piece of work - how exemplary and yet how unknown! Of course the audience is somewhat limited because of the language, but the voice of the reciter should touch even those who don’t understand the meaning of the words. And the words were well chosen - you find here poems by the finest poets of Poland of the late 19th and of the first half of the 20th century. Best known to the international audience are probably Wisława Szymborska and Czesław Miłosz who both only years later received the Nobel prize in literature. One interesting aspect is that it’s not one poem - one song, but that for some tracks different poems of different authors were combined. You will hardly realise this while listening though as they thematically suit - most deal with the war and the generation that lost it’s youth during that time. Some are quite critical about the political situation in Poland in the 50s and 60s though. This is probably one reason why this album had to be recorded an released in West Germany (the recording took place at the SWR in Baden Baden in May 1967).

The reciter, Helmut Lohner, gets to the heart of every poem. His voice may for us sound like a typical narrator of his time - haunting, sometimes agitating - but so are the poems. And where necessary he brings in all the heartiness to make you cry. An effect that gets even amplified by the music which never just jingles along in the background nor tries to outdo the recitation.

And what can one say about the music - you won’t find many composers who are able to get as close to the underlying meaning as Krzysztof Komeda does! He has of course proven this in so many films that the producer of this album, Joachim-Ernst Berendt (who was a very important figure for the German post-war Jazz scene) simply had no other choice for this project. But even he was astonished by Komeda’s commitment. In an interview with Paweł Brodowski [Jazz Forum 3/2000] he said: 

“Komeda was a very nice man. How much time he and how much effort, dedication and sensitivity when working on ‘Jazz and Poetry’! I collected texts in German and he took them with him and went to the National Library in Warsaw. He wanted to read the original texts to understand them thoroughly before beginning to write the music.”

You can hear this on every single track, there is not one song were you could get the slightest impression that Komeda had no clue on how to illustrate the text. This truely was one of his strengths. Roman Polański once said about Krzysztof Komeda that his music was cool an modern, but with a human heart. And that his films would be worthless without his music. Of course this does not apply to these poems - they work very well for themselves, but the recitation gets a lot from it. 

I think it’s needless to say anything about the musicians - they are thoroughly documented on this blog. Tomasz Stańko, Zbigniew Namysłowski, Roman Dyląg, and Rune Carlsson are the perfect vehicles for transporting Komeda’s ideas onto the record. No tfor nothing they became well known as the Komeda Quartet and as some of the undoubtedly most influential musicians in Poland - you can hear on this album why.
This album is a must have for anybody interested in Polish poetry and/or jazz. If you happen to know German it’s probably easier, else you can of course try to get a translation into your language and see for yourself how great the interpretations are. 

[link - not very representative though]

Track list:

01. The Trumpet Player Is Innocent (1:39)
Wisława Szymborska "Den Freunden"
Antoni Marianowicz "Berliner Skizzen"

02. Dirge for Europe (3:18)
Czesław Miłosz "Erde"
Antoni Marianowicz "Die Lage"
Kazimierz Wierzyński "Asche"
Krzysztof Kamil Baczyński "Miserere"

03. Miserere (3:50)
Zygmunt Ławrynowicz "Trauriges Wissen"
Tadeusz Różewicz "Laßt uns"
Wisława Szymborska "Kleine Anzeige"

04. Choral (3:12)
Józef Wittlin "Litanei"

05. Hameln Is Everywhere (1:31)
Władysław Sebyła "Bekanntmachung"

06. Prayer and Question (3:29)
Józef Czechowicz "Trauergebet"
Józef Wittlin "Nicht Neues"

07. Canzone for Warschau (4:36)
Czesław Miłosz "Nach der Katastrophe - Warschau 1943"

08. No Lovesong at All (2:44)
Kazimierz Przerwa Tetmajer "Ich such Dich"
Maria Jasnorzewska-Pawlikowska "Liebe"

09. Theme for One and Variations for Another World (8:02)
Zbigniew Bieńkowski "In Deinem Namen"
Zbigniew Herbert "Gärten züchten" aus "Die Klapper"

10. Free Witch and No-bra Queen (4:31)
Kazimiera Iłłakowiczówna "Die Hexe"
Stanisław Grochowiak "Busen der Königin"
Konstanty Ildefons Gałczyński "Mit Instrumenten schlendern"

11. Komeda im Zirkus Ważyk (1:23)
Adam Ważyk "Am Anfang dressierte man Pferde"

12. Sketches for Don Quichotte (2:22)
Stanisław Grochowiak "Ritterballade"

13. Waltzing Beyond (2:41)
Czesław Miłosz "Lied vom Weltende"

Bonus songs (not on original record, may vary on different releases, recorded in a studio of the Polish Radio, autumn 1967):
14. After Disaster (7:11)
15. Don Quichotte (11:04)
16. The Witch (6:54)
17. Ballad for Bernt (3:03)

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