Romuald Twardowski: Serenade for Strings


Romuald Twardowski (1931-) is a composer of Polish descent. He studied at the Conservatory of Vilinus and the prestigious Warsaw Academy of Music. Twardowski visited Paris and was tutored by Nadia Boulanger for some time between 1957-60. As well as being a full-time composer, Twardowski has also been a Professor at the Fryderyk Chopin University of Music since 1971. Serenade for Strings was composed in 2003, and the piece showcases Twardowski’s ingenious blend of tradition and modernity.


The Music

Split into three movements, Serenade for Strings is full of energy.

Movement I – Allegro non troppo

The opening movement, full of capricious twists and turns, begins with a driving rhythm initiated by the upper strings. Twardowski is sure to place emphasis on certain important beats of this driving accompaniment as the upper violins take the reins with a lyrical counter-melody. The intensity is high as the tempo does not falter during any point of this movement. Twardowski’s intricate melodic writing and the dichotomy created between the accompaniment and melodic themes creates a driven opening movement. 


Movement II – Andante expressivo

The slower second movement opens with a light theme by the upper strings. As the lower strings enter later on, Twardowski experiments with passing dissonances, which play into the modern side of his style. The intensity is still high in this movement, although it is presented differently to the previous movement. The elongated phrases and slow-moving harmonic languages creates a unique atmosphere. As the movement begins to wind down, the dynamic of the piece lowers until it fades into silence, leaving this movement open to much interpretation.


Movement III – Con brio

With similar gusto to the opening movement, the burst of energy heard at the start of the finale movement sets the scene for the last instalment of this exciting work. Dynamic phrases and clear-cut ideas bring together tradition and modernity as Twardowski’s style is pushed to the limit. Big unison statements plague parts of this movement, with the bold style dominating some of the sweeter lyrical sections. Twardowski places careful emphasis on important parts of the main theme, which leads to the triumphant final few bars as the strings unite one final time. 


Ⓒ Alex Burns

Happy Reading!

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