Ad libitum

Ad libitum. Five pieces for orchestra (1973–77)

Polish Radio and TV Symphony Orchestra, cond. Antoni Wit, „Warsaw Autumn” 28 IX 1984 roku

Norddeutscher Rundfunk Sinfonieorchester, cond. Jan Krenz, „Warsaw Autumn” 1977

Norddeutscher Rundfunk Sinfonieorchester, cond. Jan Krenz, „Warsaw Autumn” 1977

Ad libitum for orchestra
Ad libitum for orchestra
Ad libitum for orchestra
Ad libitum performance review
Ad libitum performance review
 
This is one of Kazimierz Serocki’s longest works. Its duration is related to the concept of open, multi-version form based on five links – “pieces”, as the composer called them – in a clear analogy with Schoenberg’s Fünf Orchesterstücke Op. 16. These are: I. ABCDEF,  II. ABCDE,  III. ABCDEFG, IV. ABCDE, V. ABCDEFGH (letters of the alphabet denote the various “segments” of the score, the number of which varies between 5 and 8). The first and foremost task of the performer (conductor) is to find a specific structural version, i.e. to arrange these five “pieces” in the chosen order, and then, similarly, to decide how to arrange the “segments”. This choice is of prime artistic significance, for – as Tadeusz A. Zieliński writes – “the segments are designed in such a way as to create a fluid, integral musical progression, while choosing their order means choosing a dramatic concept for the entire work”.
 
The “pieces” differ substantially in terms of tempo and movement, general expression and type of sound. “Piece” I is lively and restless, II – slow and lyrical, III – fast and impetuous, IV – slow, delicate and murmuring, while V – fast and aggressive. The “segments” are varied as well: from the shortest (5 H), encompassing one chord, lasting seven seconds and increasing in volume, to the longest (2 C), occupying no fewer than six pages in the score. Each of them is for a different instrumental line-up, a solution that offers many possibilities of combining timbres and creating energetic progressions.
 
During the 1977 “Warsaw Autumn”, the orchestra conducted by Jan Krenz played two versions of the work, giving it its final shape in front of the audience. In the first version the order was as follows: 4 (CEABD), 3 (FCDBEGA), 5 (AFBHCGED), 1 (BADCEF) and 2 (ABDEC); in the second: 5 (AFHDCGBE), 3 (BGEDACF), 2 (CEDAB), 4 (AEDCB) and 1 (ACEBDF). Two completely different pieces thus emerged: one framed by slow “pieces” and one surrounded by fast “pieces".
 
Ad libitum is an excellent example of Serocki’s magnificent sonic imagination and sensitivity, which Władysław Malinowski called “the apex of Serocki’s sonic seductiveness and probably such music in general, music that in Serocki’s case impresses with consistency and resistance to fashion”.

 

  • Tadeusz A. Zieliński,O twórczości Kazimierza Serockiego [On Kazimierz Serocki’s Oeuvre], Kraków 1985.
  • Władysław Malinowski, comment on Ad libitum after it was performed at the "Warsaw Autumn", Ruch Muzyczny 1977 no. 23.

 

Sheet music available from: PWMRICORDI