Sound Impression: Inner Symphonies by Hania Rani & Dobrawa Czocher

Inner Symphonies is a contemporary classical record sparked by the rekindling of a friendship between two talented artists whose paths diverged after a period making music together during their teen years. Hania Rani is a pianist and composer with two widely acclaimed solo albums and a collection of songs written for screen and stage to her name while Dobrawa Czocher became a solo cellist with the Szczecin Philharmonicare. Together they form the youngest female composer duo signed thus far to the prestigious Deutsche Grammophon label and it only takes a few minutes listening to what they have created to understand how they have earned that distinction. It really is a stunning opus.

As Hania & Dobrawa tell it, it was a series of video calls during the pandemic that opened the door to the flow of ideas that led to the album and the eventual renewal of the friendship in person when they finally met at the home of Hania’s parents in Gdansk. Given its origins then, it should not come as a surprise to learn that one of the central elements of the music is hope.

I remember Hania telling me her grandmother would say, ‘Spring will come, that’s for sure’. The world seemed to be falling apart when we began work on the album, but we had hope for a better future.

Dobrawa Czocher

And while that shared sense of hope and the warmth of personal friendship may have driven the creation of Inner Symphonies, the music itself hums with a spirit of adventure and unfettered creativity and is not shy of exploring darker shades of emotion. There are moments of otherworldly beauty, no more so than on “Whale’s Song” where Hania’s piano sparkles like the surface of the sea while Dobrawa’s cello summons a moaning call from the depths, and there are moments of tender and even anguished emotion on pieces such as “There Will Be Hope”, “Scream”, or “Malasana”.

Here inner means something little, private, intimate, while the symphonic means something huge. It’s a new adventure for us.

Hania Rani

One of the show pieces of the record is the sprightly “Con Moto” which is featured here in a video shot Kraków’s Teatr Stary (Old Theatre) with some of the cello parts layered into the album version are played by violin, viola, a second cello and double bass. It brings to life the spirit of the album and showcases Hania & Dobrawa’s sparkling talents as musicians as well as composers.

‘Con Moto’, as the name itself indicates – with movement, lively, with spirit – was our attempt to give an idea of the force that all living matter embodies. Repetitive rhythms in piano and cello, pulsation, energy and dynamics were our tools for creating this piece. It was especially interesting composing something that contrasted so much with the position we were in during lockdown – ‘Con Moto’ is therefore our ode to freedom too.

Hania and Dobrawa

Inner Symphonies is available now from Deutsche Grammophon on digital, CD, and 2xLP including an exclusive limited first edition pressed on red vinyl.

Album links | Hania Rani & Dobrawa Czocher