Polish Music Reference Center Newsletter Vol. 1, no. 11

Flash News

For the second consecutive time there was No First Prize awarded this year at the Chopin International Piano Competition in Warsaw! The Second Place Prize was shared by an audience favorite, Aleksey Sultanov, 26, of Russia and Phillipe Giusiano, 22, from France. Third Prize went to Gabriela Montero, 25, an American living in Great Britain. In addition to money prizes, the winners will perform in recital at La Scala in Milan.Making it to the finals: Rem Urasin of Russia, Magdalena Lisak from Poland and Rika Miyatani of Japan. One of the 140 contestants from 39 countries was Thomasz Kolodziejek from Seattle, Washington.

Simon Rattle’s recording of Szymanowski’s “Stabat Mater” won the 1995 Gramophone Award in two categories, Choral and Engineering. Murray Perahia was awarded the Best Instrumental Record of the Year for his Chopin recital.In reporting on the Szymanowski recording for the 1995 Gramophone Awards, music critic Michael Oliver wrote, “Those of us who love Szymanowski’s music and occasionally, if tentatively, call him a genius have had quite a few recordings of his music to be grateful for lately, but none that better demonstrates his range or which makes any apology about calling him a great composer seem more foolish.“I, personally, was very happy to see that Sir Simon Rattle also included one of the most beautiful of Szymanowski’s songs (which had never been recorded outside of Poland before), the “Litany to the Virgin Mary,” which I had recommended and provided the music score to him.As for the engineering award, the recording was singled out as a clear winner. Ivor Humphreys wrote in the November issue of Gramophone magazine that, “Balance engineer Mike Clements has indeed achieved a remarkably lifelike sound here…” The acoustic design of the Symphony Hall in Birmingham also helped to bring about a superb balance of sound. EMI CDC5 55121-2.

Other Competition News

The Boys’choir, “Slowiki” (Nightingales) under the direction of Bozena Derwich was selected as best choral group at the VIIth INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL in Johannesburg. The jury underscored the virtuosic vocal technique displayed in their rendition of a “Polonaise” by Jozef SWIDER and “Wesole dzwieki” (Happy sounds) by Marek JASINSKI.

Natan Dondalski, 15 year old violinist from Olsztyn, Poland, was one of the winners of the Ludwig Spohr International Competition For Young Violonists in Weimar. There were 83 candidates from 22 countries and the competition was divided into three age groups: up to 14; 15-17 and 18-21.

The winner of the Sixth Polish National Adam Didur Composers Competition was won by Maciej Jablonski for his “Psalm XXIII ‘Dominus regit me” for soprano solo, string orchestra and piano. It was performed recently in Sanok during the VI Days of Vocal Music honoring singer Adam Didur.

The Ist International Witold Lutoslawski Festival Of Contemporary Music was held in the city of Szczecin on October 7th. Wojciech Michniewski conducted the National Philharmonic of Szczecin. At least one Lutoslawski work was performed during the seven concerts scheduled for the festival by soloists and ensembles from Poland and abroad.

The winner of the 1994 Indianapolis International Violin Competition, Canadian violinist Juliette Kang, performs Lutoslawski’s “Subito” which was commissioned for the competition in her debut recording for Discover International 920241. K. Robert Schwarz, who reviewed the recording for Classical pulse, Oct ’95, describes Kang’s performance of Lutoslawski’s piece as SUPERB!

Real Bargains In Books from Garland Publishing

1) “Polish 17th century church music” by Delma Brough. A PhD. dissertation, Oxford U. 1981, 416 p. $132. Sale price: $20.

2) “The work sheets to Chopin’s violoncello Sonata.” A facsimile. introduction by Ferdinand Gajewski. 140 p. $110. Sale price: $30.

3) “The symphony in Poland.” Introduction by William Smialek, 398 p. From the series, “The Symphony 1720-1840.” Barry S. Brook, ed. $102. Sale price: $25.Also available from them:
Szymanowski as post-Wagnerian. The love songs of Hafiz, op. 24.” Stephen C. Downes, 376 p. $80. This was selected as one of the outstanding dissertations in music from British universities. PhD. dissertation by Downes, Goldsmith’s College, London, 1992.

Write to Garland publishing, 1000A Sherman Ave. Hamden, CT 06514.

The “Polish Heritage Songbook” compiled by Marek Sart, a Polish composer, is a “new collection containing 78 of the songs most meaningful to Poland’s national tradition. Included are soldier’s songs from throughout history…as well as folk songs and campfire songs familiar to generations of Poles. From “Bogurodzica” to “Czerwone Maki” these songs played an important role in keeping the spirit of an independent Poland alive.” (Zgoda). Available through the Polish National Alliance, Educational Department, 6100 N. Cicero Ave., Chicago, IL 60646.

Newest Releases

The Polish record company, Polskie Nagrania (Polish Recordings) has re-released three of the six volume series of Szymanowski’s works, formerly labeled PNCD 062 – PNCD 067. Vol. 2 of choral works (PNCD 063) is now PLN 063. Vol. 4 of violin works (PNCD 064) is now PLN 064 and Vol 5 (piano music) (PNCD 065) is now PLN 065.There are several other welcome additions to the Szymanowski discography:

1) Martin Roscoe has launched a Piano series V. 1 with “Metopes, Mazurkas, Etudes and the Second sonata.” Recorded at St. Martin’s Church, East Woodhay, Feb ’94. On NAXOS 8.553016.

2) EMI Classics has issued the violin works performed by Ulf Hoelscher, violin and Michel Beroff, piano. The famous “Mythes, Paganini caprices and Romance in d” as recorded in West Germany’s Radio Studio 2, Cologne on May 18-20, 1982.

3) ONDINE ODE 827 pairs the Kodaly “Sonata for cello” with a cello arrangement (by the late Kazimierz Wilkomirski) of Szymanowski’s “Violin Sonata op. 9.” Artists: Jan-Erik Gustafson, vc. and Heini Karkainen, piano.These are all “welcome” additions for music lovers, those who are already sold on Szymanowski and his music, as well as those looking for music to really be “moved by.” The Columbus, Ohio Radio Station WOSU selected the Szymanowski Violin sonata (DENON CO 78954) as “yet another gem in Chee-Yun’s discography – captivating, impassioned, lyrical – everything you’d hope to find in these late romantic works.” (Gramophone Nov ’95).

More Newest Releases:

  • More than two dozen new recordings of Chopin’s music by pianists Alexander Brailovsky, Clara Haskil, Olli Mustonen, Janina Fialkowska, Richter, O’Rourke, Ashkenazy, Moravec, Tacchino, Darre, Rigutto, Rubinstein, Vasary, Malcuzynski, Barenboim, Block, Clidat, Arrau, Ohlsson, Biret, Churkassky, Rosen, Schwejda, laforet and Wirssaladze.
  • Two new recordings of Lutoslawski’s works.
  • Three of Gorecki’s (including “Totus Tuus” for a capella choir by Robert Shaw, who also has recorded Szymanowski’s “Stabat Mater“).
  • Three of Penderecki (including his “Sixtieth Birthday Gala Concert“).
  • Polish symphonies of the 18th c. (Dankowski and Wanski). ELYSIUM GRK 704.
  • Zygmunt Krauze, president of the Polish section of the ISCM, can be heard on Polskie Nagrania PLN 113 (chamber and chamber orchestra works).
  • PROVIVA ISPV 173 has Bargielski’s “Arnold Schoenberg in memoriam” for string quartet along with Bronislaw Przybylski’s String Quartet no. 2.
  • Polskie Nagrania PLN 075 has Marta Ptaszynska’s ‘Concerto for marimba,” the prize-winning “La novella d’inverno” for string orchestra and “Songs of despair and loneliness” for voice and piano. The latter sung by Polish contralto Ewa Podles, who sang the role of Tancredi to acclaim at La Scala, Milan and whose “memorable singing” can be heard in the NAXOS recent release of the Rossini opera (8660037/8).

Did You Know That?

Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche was Polish. The German philosopher (1844-1900) wrote about it in his most famous book, “Ecce Homo” and also in his autobiography. He wrote that even as a small boy he was very proud of his Polish background. He was taught that the origin of his name came from a noble Protestant Polish family, NICKI (pronounced Neetsky) who left Poland more than a hundred years ago.This “tidbit” came from Art Zygmont’s PACN (Polish American Cultural Newsletter), Winter 1995 issue. He has a little section called, “Everybody is Polish.” Now we can add Nietzsche to the other names: famed ballet master NIJINSKY, English author Joseph CONRAD, composers George ANTHEIL, Victor YOUNG, SHOSTAKOVICH, among others.

Birthdays In November

  • Szymon Laks: November 1, 1901
  • Stanislaw Niewiadomski: November 4, 1857
  • Ignacy Jan Paderewski: November 6, 1860
  • Krzysztof Penderecki: November 23, 1933
  • Szymon Laks, a Polish-Jewish composer who survived the Nazi concentration camps only because of his musical talent. (Although Jozef Koffler, the only Polish composer extensively using the twelve tone technique, was not as lucky). You can read his own account of his ordeals and the influence of music on that life in “Music of another world,” published by Northwestern University Press, 1989.
    Laks was one of many Polish students who went to Paris in 1926 to study with Nadia Boulanger, Paul Dukas and others. He did not return to Poland and was living in France when war broke out and returned there after WWII. Some of his music has been published by the Polish national publishing house, PWM. Two of his early works are still available: “Suite dans le gout ancien per clavicembalo/pianoforte” and a song, “Elegia miasteczek zydowskich” (Elegy for the Jewish cities). Order from: PWM, Foreign Trade Department, al. Krasinskiego 11a, 31-111 Krakow Poland. Tel/Fax: 48/12/22 73 28.
    The Polish Music Reference Center at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles has more than a dozen unpublished music scores of Szymon Laks. These were donated to our archives by the widow and son of the composer who live in Paris.
  • Stanislaw Niewiadomski (1857-1936p is mostly remembered for his songs. He wrote more than 100 of them, continuing the tradition of Poland’s greatest song-writer, Stanislaw Moniuszko.
  • Ignacy Jan Paderewski (1860-1941) was the most famous and popular pianist of his time. Composer, humanitarian and diplomat, he spent his time and fortune to make Poland independent after World War I and again during WWII. Although Paderewski is primarily remembered as a pianist, he wrote many finely crafted compositions. There are six CDs available of his “Piano Concerto” three of the “Fantaisie Polonaise” for piano and orchestra, two of his Violin Sonata, one of his “Symphony” and several recordings of his piano works (including Karol Radziwonowicz’s “Complete works for piano solo”on the Chant du Monde label. Be sure to listen to the Piano Sonata and the “Variations.” Two extremely difficult works.
    Many books have been written in English by the famed pianist’s American friends and they are easily obtained in the public libraries in the U.S. Two of the more recent ones are “Paderewski” by Adam Zamoyski (l982, in English) and a diary of the pianist’s concerts around the world, along with his repertoire, compiled by Malgorzata Perkowska, director of the Paderewski Archives in Krakow (1990, in Polish).

For further information contact me at my e-mail address: Wilk@mizar.usc.edu