Serocki's work performed at the Radiowy Dom Muzyki in Katowice, 1975.
Symphonic Frescoes (1964) for orchestra
Symphonic Frescoes (1963–64) is one of the first examples in Kazimierz Serocki’s oeuvre of “composing with sound colours”, of using various combinations of sound-colour structures for artistic purposes (this feature is characteristic for the so-called sonoristic technique). In this case the combinations are “fresco-like”, but the composer would say teasingly that the title of the work had “nothing to do with painting or sculpture”. Rather, Serocki intended it to be a kind of protest “against the recently fashionable abstract titles of compositions in Italian” (K. Serocki, Komponisten-Selbstportrait, unpublished typescript, 1965, p. 9).
Nevertheless, the title does provoke analogies with painting (Serocki liked painting, including Kandinsky’s art), especially comparisons between Serocki’s composition technique with painting on wet plaster – from sketching outlines, through mixing of paints, applying their successive layers, to finishing touches. The composer uses, for instance, sound strokes or bundles, and the chiaroscuro effect represented by reverberation; by means of instrumentation he distinguishes the most important elements from those that make up the background.
Even though the “colourfulness” of this orchestral composition is intense, its essence – as the composer intended – remains autonomously musical. The piece is an attempt to solve important problems concerning a renewal of the form of contemporary music and to create new formal elements for the purpose, elements which – changed and repeated – would be heard by the listeners, would enable them to understand and experience the work as a whole.
Symphonic Frescoes is divided in the score into three parts, but, in fact, the work consists of four sections performed without a pause. What distinguishes them are, like in A piacere for piano, their different “characters”. Thus, the work evolves from a mysterious and restless prelude, through events in the first movement, lively, dynamic second movement and the third section full of murmuring, fantastic colours, to a simply orgiastic finale.
Such a form proved to be so excellent that Symphonic Frescoes was enthusiastically received by the audience and won the composer 3rd place at UNESCO’s International Rostrum of Composers in Paris in 1965. The premiere took place in Darmstadt on 22 July 1964, with the Südwestfunk Orchestra from Baden-Baden playing under Ernest Bour, to whom the work was dedicated.