Skrowaczewski Cheered In Minneapolis
In advance of his annual stint with the Minnesota Orchestra, the ensemble of which he was music director for 19 years but with which he has been closely affiliated for a stunning 52 years—he is its conductor laureate—the 88-year-old Stanislaw Skrowaczewski was feted in the (Minneapolis) Star Tribune with a comprehensive interview. The columnist, Graydon Royce, drew comments and observations from the maestro about the past, the present, and the future, all of them serving to reveal a unique personality combining an historical awareness and unwavering integrity with a singular humility and total commitment to his art.
"...Skrowaczewski still possesses an inquisitive interest in life and seems to know deep within himself that there is work to be done, music to be interpreted, and people to meet. If he laments the populism of modern culture, it is not because he begrudges the tastes of others. It is because of his passion for art," Royce notes.
This year's offering was a single work, the Eighth Symphony by Anton Bruckner, the Austrian composer who has been Skrowaczewski's musical ideal. Not only has he performed his works worldwide, earning unanimous praise for his interpretations and being awarded the Bruckner Society of America's Joseph Kilenyi Medal of Honor, but he has recorded the complete Bruckner symphonies and even modeled the monumental slow movement of his own Concerto for Orchestra after the 19th-century master, entitling it "The Ascension of Anton Bruckner."
The reviews were ecstatic: "...it’s hard to imagine an account more passionate or more thoughtful than Skrowaczewski's. (Is there another conductor who integrates the seemingly incongruous elements of Bruckner's style—Schubert's lyricism and Wagner's orchestral timbres, learned counterpoint and 19th century monumentality—so completely?) Conducting without a score, he was master of the work's global design and its finest detail.... Music-making on this exalted plane comes our way but rarely." (Larry Fuchsberg)
Under the headline "Skrowaczewski leads an experience to be savored," Rob Hubbard wrote: "...the Minnesota Orchestra may be at the peak of its powers right now, and the Thursday, April 19, concert felt like an ideal confluence of elements, an experience that is unlikely to be repeated after the Friday concert....never did this performance feel more like a precious treasure than in the Adagio, a movement during which Bruckner manages to sound so much like his musical hero, Richard Wagner, yet expresses his ideas in a voice entirely his own. This movement felt like the sound of Skrowaczewski's heart and spirit, urgency pouring forth from the podium and eloquently articulated by the orchestra."