Fresh from Music for Film and Theatre, Hania Rani teams with renowned cellist and childhood friend Dobrawa Szocher for the exquisite Inner Symphonies. The album was conceived during the pandemic as the composers considered how they might encourage each other and offer hope through their music. The saying of Hania’s grandmother ~ “Spring will come, that’s for sure” ~ is reflected in the title of the final track and the album’s upbeat mood. The tone travels from restrained and contemplative to exuberant and unleashed, as demonstrated in the contrast between the overture and “Con Moto” ~ joy crouched behind a couch, followed by the leap. The track features a multitude of friends in the auditorium of Kraków’s Juliusz Słowacki’s Theater, the theatre beautifully lit. Early on, one witnesses the flurries of notes that we now associate with Rani’s playing. The small orchestra may be playing in an empty theatre, but the lushness of their sound makes the seats seem filled. The title means “lively, with movement and spirit,” and these performers ~ all university friends ~ embody the definition.
The keening of “Whale’s Song” is reflective of the human spirit in a time of lockdown: tired, lonely, yearning. One expects “Scream” to be loud, but instead the selection is subdued: an inner scream matched by the Inner Symphonies of the title. We bear silent burdens and silent hopes, but Rani and Dobrawa give them voice. So even “Scream” eventually includes glockenspiel, perhaps the world’s happiest instrument, and leads directly to the album’s second single and spiritual center, “There Will Be Hope,” the title reminiscent of a Daniel Day-Lewis movie, but with a completely different outlook. The song is inspired by Philip Glass, the key change signaling hope’s arrival, Drew Tyndell’s abstract video like a dance of fire and ice, hope and despair, finally arriving at reconciliation. The struggle begins again, with “Anima” and “Demons,” but leads to the same conclusion: hope wins.
The album cover is black and white and wintry; the video cover is green and lush, signaling the arrival of a spiritual spring. This is the inner symphony that can give one strength to carry on, and even to thrive: like a friendship rekindled, a reservoir rediscovered. Our grandmothers have lived through times far worse than these; thanks to their wisdom and witness, we know that we can do the same. (Richard Allen)