Weronika Ratusinska was born in Warsaw and studied there at
the Fryderyk Chopin Music Academy with Wlodzimierz Kotonski
and Stanislaw Moryto. In 2001-02 she studied with Louis Andriessen
and Martijn Padding at the Royal Conservatory in the Hague.
The Cello Concerto is, according to the composer’s
notes: “…a trial of synthesis of east and repetitive
music, which is rooted in jazz but also in activities of artists
who create minimal art.” Beware: this is one of those
booklets where the translations are as inventive with language
as the composer is with her musical imagination. What the composer
means is that she had brought together some modes from eastern
music, and married them to minimal procedures. Forget that.
This is actually a very good work, colourful, vibrant, strongly
melodic, and displaying an inventive and active imagination.
It was written for Tomasz Strahl and he gives a totally authoritative
The Sinfonietta is written in a less complex style. The
first movement is a canon, quite vivacious and filled with an
infectious spirit. The second movement exploits harmonics and
glissando in the outer sections, enclosing a strong square dance.
The finale uses a figure reminiscent from Steve Reich Violin
Phase and builds on it, the music coming to a “further
culmination”, as the booklet tells us. I fail to understand
this. It’s a very successful piece and totally engrossing,
and if you like Grazyna Bacewicz’s Concerto for Strings
(1948), or Wojciech Kilar’s Orawa (1988),
you’ll love it.
Gasherbrum is a student work in which, “It is worth
to pay attention to how the repetitiveness of musical thoughts
slows down the pace of course of events, so to say prolongs
time, which becomes stopped, slowered, considered.” It
also, “is an expression of my fascination with beauty
of Himalayas, and the Buddhist spirit of Tibet.” This
is all interesting but misleading. Starting with Eastern sounds
filtered through Madame Butterfly, it progresses into
some not very convincing chinoiserie with flute and harp. However,
if you forget the programme note, which seems to bear no relevance
to the music, you’ll find quite an attractive piece which
contains a nicely rhythmic middle section which reappears at
The Divertimenti per archi commences with a very commonplace
call to attention, then becomes marvellously engaging chatter.
The middle movement is a gentle country dance - this could almost
be Gustav Holst! - and the finale a wild dithyramb.
The Symphony for the Great Symphonic Orchestra brings
us back to the very serious and probing music with which we
started. It is the result of the composer wishing to write a
work which utilises the phase shifting techniques of
John Adams and Steve Reich. Ratusinska certainly achieves her
goal but at the expense of losing her own personality. The scoring
is brilliant and colourful, like the Cello Concerto,
and equally as gripping but not as excitingly original.
My comments concerning the Symphony notwithstanding,
it is obvious that Ratusinska is a composer to be reckoned with.
She has talent, and a vivid imagination. These performances
are all one could wish for and they have done the composer proud.
The sound is excellent, bright and stunning, but beware the
notes in the English translation in the booklet. A must for
anyone interested in new music and a good introduction for those
wanting to dip their toes in the contemporary music pool