Polish Music Newsletter Vol. 20, no. 3

PMC News

Slavic Soul Of Polish Jazz

The Jan Jarczyk & Friends Polish Jazz concert on 29 March, 2014 at the Alfred Newman Recital Hall was a unique and eclectic mix of classical jazz and string quartet music.  String quartet is not typically associated with jazz, either classical or contemporary, but it worked quite well in these compositions by Bronisław Kaper, Henryk Wars, and Jan Jarczyk.  Jazz in Poland has been firmly established since late 1920s, when it became very popular and fashionable—and it remains so to this day. Henryk Wars and Bronisław Kaper, both born in Poland in 1902, eventually settled in Los Angeles and began successful careers in the music and film industries.

Mr. Jarczyk, who resides in Montreal, was joined on stage by two very talented local musicians: bassist Dave Robaire and percussionist Efa Etoroma Jr.  Most of the evening’s selections also included the Stella Cho String Quartet—four outstanding young Master’s Degree USC students, including violinists Hwi-Eun Kim and Ji Young Park, violist Jason Karlyn, and cellist Stella Cho. Despite the fact that Mr. Jarczyk arrived in Los Angeles just days before the concert, the transitions between the jazz trio and the string quartet were smooth and well-rehearsed.

The program featured some of Henry Wars’ classics, such as You’ll Never Forget Me and Never Say You’ll Never Fall in Love, as well as some of the better-known tunes by Bronisław Kaper: Blue Venetian Waters and While My Lady Sleeps.  I particularly enjoyed the sweet, soothing sound of cello solos performed by Stella Cho in these compositions.

Jan Jarczyk, celebrating his 66th birthday this year, closed the concert with some of his own works, such as There is Always Time and Round, Round and Round. His performance proved that the Polish jazz is as pure as jazz can be.  Combining typical jazz elements, i.e. piano, bass, and percussion with classical instrumentation of a string quartet introduced Slavic soul into the concert. Listening to the string quartet somehow reminded me of classical Polish music since there were a number of musical elements typically found in Polish compositions.

My only regret to the wonderful evening was that despite vigorous applause, Jan Jarczyk and his ensemble did not come out for an encore!  There was, however, an opportunity to meet the performers during a reception that followed this delightfully relaxing, soothing, yet energizing performance.   Thanks to the Polish Music Center at USC for making this concert possible!

–Andrew Kozlowski


Recent PMC Donations

Madame Paderewska’s Wedding Band

We’re very happy to acknowledge another extraordinary and touching gift from a long-time friend of the Polish Music Center. In late March, Anne Appleton-Strakacz donated to us a very precious and rare item: a wedding band Paderewski presented to his bride, Helena, on May 31, 1899—their wedding day in Warsaw. The inside of the golden ring is inscribed with Paderewski’s initials and “1858,” the year Helena von Rosen was born. This wedding ring was previously exhibited at the Forest Lawn Museum in Los Angeles.

Along with other small personal items, Ignacy Jan Paderewski’s wedding ring is on display at the Musée Paderewski in Morges, Switzerland, nearby his villa where he lived from 1899 until 1940.

[At left: the Paderewski wedding invitation]

Sounds Like Trębacz!

Izabella Zymer, on behalf of the Polish Composers’ Union, recently sent us copies of the latest recording featuring works by Ewa Trębacz. This beautifully produced CD features Trębacz’s compositions from the past decade, including Aletheia (2000), Minotaur (2005-2011), things lost things invisible (2007), Errai (2009; remix 2013), and ANC’L’SUR (2012; remix 2013). The recording of the Minotaur comes from the live performances recorded at the 2011 New Generation concert, presented by the Polish Music Center at USC. Co-produced with the Polish Radio, this CD comes from the series “Polish Music Today.” The bilingual Polish and English liner notes feature an extensive interview with the composer, concert photos and biographies of other performers and Trębacz’s collaborators, including Anna Niedźwiedź, Tomasz Tokarczyk, Tarnów Chamber Orchestra, Josiah Boothby, Karol Szymanowski academic Symphony Orchestra, Arturo Tamayo, Szymon Bywalec, Marek Moś, and the Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra.

Round & Round With Jarczyk

Grammy-nominated jazz pianist and composer Jan Jarczyk recently sent two of his CDs to the Polish Music Center. The first disc, Round, Round & Round, a GOVI Records CDG 70 release, contains music for jazz trio and string quartet. Among the performers on this recording are two of Jarczyk’s daughters, violinist Corinne Raymond-Jarczyk and cellist Amaryllis Jarczyk. Other performers include violinist Josh Peters, drummer Jim Doxas, bassist Morgan Moore, violists Marcin Swoboda and Isaac Chalk, as well as pianist Jan Jarczyk.

The second Jarczyk donation, the Full Circle CD, features the jazz trio ensemble with bassist Fraser Hollins, drummer Jim Doxas, and Jan Jarczyk at the piano. It comes on the Odd Sound label.

Polish Music On Universal With Foreign Affairs

Mariusz Brymora, the new Consul General of the Republic of Poland in Los Angeles, has presented the PMC with a five disc CD set, “Polish Classical Music of 20th Century,” released by Universal Music in cooperation with Poland’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Each of the five CDs is devoted to the most important and representative works by modern Polish composers. Disc one has Karol Szymanowski’s First Violin Concerto, and Symphony No. 3. The second CD features Witold Lutosławski’s Concerto for Orchestra, Paroles Tissées, and Symphony No. 3. by Sir Andrzej Panufnik—this year’s centenary laureate—is represented by Sinfonia Sacra, Symphony No. 10 and Cello Concerto. On the fourth CD is Krzysztof Penderecki’s Credo, and the last CD in the set is devoted exclusively to Henryk Mikołaj Górecki’s celebrated Symphony No. 3.

Kolberg Lieder CD

A world premiere recording of songs for voice and piano by Oskar Kolberg was recently issued by Acte Préalable in Poland. Devoted to promoting Polish music and musicians, this recording label has featured a number of little-known works that are of great interest to the researchers and the public. Chiefly known for his research and monumental writings on Polish folklore, Oskar Kolberg was also a talented composer. The twenty-one songs for soprano and tenor recorded on this CD represent a great majority of Kolberg’s output in the genre. Soprano Iwona Kowalkowska, tenor Wojciech Maciejowski, and pianist Andrzej Tatarski are featured on this CD, produced jointly by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage, Institute of Music and Dance, and the Paderewski Music Academy in Poznań.

Upon recommendation by Hanka Kolberg, this CD was recently sent to us by the Poznań Music Academy. We are very pleased and grateful to receive this wonderful item for our library.

Kuba Stankiewcz & Kilar

Through the good offices of documentary filmmaker and longtime PMC friend Anna Ferens, we received two recent CDs recorded by Kuba Stankiewicz. The first album features exclusively Wojciech Kilar’s film music. The album’s twelve tracks feature excerpts from several all-time favorite scores, including The Portrait of a Lady, Ziemia obiecana [The Promised Land], Bram Stoker’s Dracula, and Trędowata [Leper], among others.

The other CD features music by Kuba Stankiewicz, with such original titles as Split Point, November Sun, Braveheart, Twitter Song, and More than Revenge. Mr. Stankiewicz is assisted at the piano on this recording by Maciej Sikała (tenor and alto sax), Wojciech Pulcyn (bass), and Sebastian Frankiewicz (drums).

Anna’s Place To Stand

Anna Ferens donated to the PMC a DVD copy of her latest documentary film, A Place to Stand. This documentary presents a fascinating look at how some forward-looking members of the European Parliament had steadfastly supported democratic movements in Central Europe in the 1980s. It was screened at USC’s Annenberg School on March 31st and during a conference about the European Union held at Claremont/Scripps Colleges in early April.

Another donation from Anna included a recently-issued CD of music by Henryk Wars [Henry Vars]. This HoBo Records disc includes some of Wars’s best-loved tunes from the 1930s, including Miłość Ci wszystko wybaczy [Love Forgives All], Już nie zapomnisz mnie [You’ll Never Forget Me], and Panie Janie [Mr. John], among others. They are performed by pianist Bogdan Hołownia with Wojciech Pulcyn, bass. The two artists gave their CD to Anna, who passed it on to the Polish Music Center.

To all our friends and donors: Dziękujemy!


Quarta Now Online

A new issue of Polskie Wydawnictwo Muzyczne’s periodical Quarta has just appeared. From now on Quarta will be a bilingual magazine published on a quarterly basis, focusing on selected topics and containing repertoire recommendations.

The theme of the latest issue is folklore, whose echoes can be heard in many works written over the centuries by Polish composers. The subject of folk inspiration in music is examined in an article by Danuta Gwizdalanka, Sounds of Poland, and in an interview with Maria Pomianowska.

The new issue includes two inserts—entirely in Polish—devoted to upcoming events in the classical music world abroad in the near future, with special supplement dedicated to Wojciech Kilar, who passed away in December 2013. Quarta also lists the upcoming concerts of Polish works, reviews of premieres and recordings and newly published books and recordings. The latest Quarta issue can be found under this link.

[source: http://www.pwm.com.pl/]


Paderewski Documentary Wins Certificate Of Merit

Wiesław Dąbrowski’s latest documentary film Paderewski: Man of Action, Success and Fame was recognized with the Certificate of Merit at the 2014 Chicago International Film Festival in the category of Television Awards, History/Biography. Realized with the financial support of the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage and the City of Warsaw, this film was also shown at the Paderewski Festival in Paso Robles, California in November 2013.

Mr. Dąbrowski’s forty-minute documentary presents the history of the great Polish patriot, world-famous pianist, composer, statesman, diplomat, politician and philanthropist. Thanks to Paderewski, Poland regained independence after World War I.  Narrated chronologically, the film traces Paderewski’s early years in Kuryłówka and Warsaw to his sensationally successful debut in Paris in 1888. The film continues with Paderewski’s triumphs in North America, presents vignettes from his personal life, and documents Paderewski’s rising worldwide recognition as an exceptional artist and performer.

Accordion Player Named Polish Young Musician Of The Year

Accordion player Bartosz Kołsut has been named Poland’s Young Musician of the Year and will represent Poland in the finals of the Eurovision Young Musicians Competition in Cologne on May 31.

Bartosz attends a music school in Radom and his honors include First Prize at the Akordeon-Wettbewerb Festival in Vienna in 2011. The eighteen-year-old has held grants from the Minister of Culture and National Heritage and the Mayor of Radom. He also plays the bandoneon and is fond of Piazzola and the popular repertoire.

Seven hopefuls competed in the finals of the contest, which is the most important promotion of the youngest generation of Polish musicians. They were accompanied by the Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra under Łukasz Borowicz. The jury included the American pianist Kevin Kenner and the composer and instrumentalist Krzesimir Dębski.

[Source: http://www.thenews.pl/]

Not I Wins Nomination For “Polonica Nova” Prize

Agata Zubel’s composition Not I finds itself among 5 works which have been nominated for the Wrocław Polonica Nova Prize.

The Wrocław Polonica Nova Prize is an initiative of the City of Wrocław and Polish Radio 2, prepared with the Wrocław Philharmonic for the Polish Contemporary Music Festival, Musica Polonica Nova. The prize will be awarded to the selected Polish composers for their best work, which has been premiered during the past two years and was written during the last five years. The expected prize is 100,000 PLN [ca. $35,000], funded by the Mayor of Wrocław, Rafał Dutkiewicz. The composer whose work is recognized as the most intriguing will be required to write a new work for the next edition of the festival Musica Polonica Nova.

The jury has selected the following works:

  • Cezary Duchnowski – acc++ca
  • Jerzy Kornowicz – Wielkie Przejście
  • Marcin Stańczyk – Sighs
  • Artur Zagajewski – Stabat Mater
  • Agata Zubel – Not I

[Source: http://www.pwm.com.pl/]

Kolberg & Panufnik Year 2014

Kolberg’s Celebrations Continue!

Besides a number of recent concerts held in honor of Oskar Kolberg’s bicentennial, the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage, the Institute of Music and Dance and the Chopin National Institute have jointly participated in producing several important events and publications.

A new album dedicated to Kolberg has been published by the Institute of Music and Dance in cooperation with the local sponsor, Bank Spółdzielczy in Przysucha. Illustrated with personal documents, images of manuscripts and other documents, this fascinating volume of Kolberg memorabilia can be obtained at the museum in the composer’s birthplace of Przysucha as well as in the Open Air Museum of Rural Architecture in the nearby town of Radom. More information on this publication can be found here.

The Kolberg page on the Institute of Music and Dance website also has links to Poland’s National Library’s website, polona.pl, where a selection of musical and ethnographical works by Oskar Kolberg can be seen. The polona.pl website offers access to digitalized collections of the National Library in Warsaw.

Photos from the Kolberg exhibit at the Institute of Music and Dance can be seen here.

The Chopin National institute produced an excellent exhibit dedicated to the life and work of Oskar Kolberg. Beginning with his family’s history, the exhibit’s 13 extensively illustrated plates cover Kolberg’s research of Polish folk music, which includes personal notes, drawings and a variety of musical publications. This extensive mis-en-scène leads the reader to Kolberg’s life opus: his multi-volume groundbreaking series of books detailing folk traditions in different regions of Poland. Kolberg’s exceptional effort resonated deeply with Chopin who—in a spring 1847 letter to his family—wrote, “Please express gratitude to Kolberg for his tireless work.”

With texts in Polish and English and a wealth of superb illustrations, this exhibit is a joy to peruse (PDF file download).

The Chopin Institute in Warsaw has also published an album, Fryderyk Chopin i bracia Kolbergowie na tle epoki [Frederic Chopin and the Kolberg Brothers in their times] which is still available for purchase at the Institute.

In collaboration with the Polish Academy of Sciences, the Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań, and the Polish Ethnological Society, the Oskar Kolberg Institute in Poznań will hold an international conference celebrating Kolberg’s bicentennial. Titled, “The Work of Oskar Kolberg as National and European Heritage”, the conference will be held in Poznań May 22-23. The President of Poland, Bronisław Komorowski, is the honorary conference patron. More information about the conference is available here.

Kolberg’s Songs

The Oskar Kolberg Year was inaugurated on 21 February 2014 in Kolberg’s birthplace of Przysucha, on the eve of the 200th anniversary of his birth. The celebratory concert featured most of Kolberg’s heretofore unperformed songs for voice and piano, performed by soprano Iwona Kowalkowska, tenor Wojciech Maciejowski, and pianist Andrzej Tatarski.

The artists, who serve on the faculty of the Paderewski Music Academy in Poznań, had also recorded Kolberg’s songs on a CD produced by the Academy especially for Kolberg’s bicentennial. Their recording—a part of the project “Oskar Kolberg in the Vocal Poetry”—was realized by the Academy of Music and co-financed by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage under the “Kolberg 2014 – Promise” program directed by Poland’s Institute of Music and Dance.

Kolberg’s Songs for Voice with Piano is a world premiere recording of 21 songs for soprano and tenor, selected from among the 26 songs left by the composer. Oskar Kolberg’s achievements in ethnography and science notwithstanding, only now his musical accomplishments as a composer are beginning to be discovered by the musicians, musicologists, and the public.

Panufnik Centenary April Celebrations

2014 marks the centenary of acclaimed Polish composer Sir Andrzej Panufnik. Throughout the year many exciting events are taking place around the world. Leading orchestras, conductors, chamber groups and soloists and radio stations in several countries and continents are planning Panufnik performances, education events and lectures which will be announced on the dedicated centenary page.

The centenary celebrations in the UK—where Panufnik spent half of his life in exile from Communist-controlled Poland—began in February 2014. International concerts celebrating Panufnik this month include:

Tuesday, April 15, 2014 | 7:30 pm
18th Ludwig van Beethoven Festival – Warsaw, Poland
Panufnik: Violin Concerto
Tai Murray, violin
Info: http://filharmonia.pl/

Wednesday, April 23, 2014 | 8:00 pm
Konzerthaus, Berlin, Germany
Panufnik; Heroic Overture; Witold Lutosławski: Musique funèbre
Landesjugendorchester Berlin / Sian Edwards
Info: http://www.landesmusikrat-berlin.de/

Sunday, April 27, 2014 | 6:00 pm
Liepaja, Latvia
Panufnik: Piano Concerto
Maciej Grzybowski, piano / Liepaja Symphony Amber Sound Orchestra
Info: http://lso.lv

[Sources: newsletters.polishculture.org.uk, panufnik.com]


Sikorski At National Philharmonic

Works by Polish minimalist Tomasz Sikorski (1939-1988) are rarely heard on concert stages. A notable exception was the March 21 performance of his Strings in the Earth by the Warsaw Philharmonic under Jerzy Maksymiuk. Inspired by the poetry of James Joyce, Strings in the Earth demonstrates Sikorski’s mastery in the use of resources and colors from the string ensemble. Other works on this ambitious concert program included Arvo Pärt’s Lamentate and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 4.

May 19, 2014 will mark Tomasz Sikorski’s 75th birthday. Hopefully more of his music will be programmed to commemorate this singular composer and pianist, whose career was tragically cut short at the age of 49. In his commentary to the 1989 Warsaw Autumn Festival, published after Sikorski’s death, the composer and music critic Rafał Augustyn reflected that:

Far away from being literal, Sikorski’s music is highly symbolic and, as it evolved, its symbolism was magnified by the ever-more present literary and philosophical allusions made by the composer. They came from a very particular circle: Kierkegaard, Schopenhauer, Kafka, Joyce, Beckett and, most recently, Borges—authors who, generally speaking, are chiefly interested in human existence and condition, and who are pessimists and moralists without illusions. […] Tomasz Sikorski was a true European, with his fears, phobias, obsessions, and madness.

[Source: www.pwm.com.pl/; www.culture.pl ]

Sound Trashing

Wojciech Błażejczyk’s Trash Music is a composition for a wide array of objects of everyday use, including an egg cutter, typewriter, and clothes’ dryer, among others. The sound is teased out of these “objectophones” (as the composer calls them) using various mallets, bows, and balls.  When such sounds are electronically transformed with specially-designed amplification and computer programming, they become sources for expressive musical material for the composer and performers. Visual artist Robert Pludra arranged these instruments onstage at the Poznań Castle Cultural Center for the world premiere performance of Trash Music during Poznań’s Music Spring Festival on March 22.

The performers included four objectophone virtuosos (Wojciech Błazejczyk, Bartosz Kowalski, Krzysztof Kozłowski, and Leszek Lorent) as well as members of the Warsaw Contemporary Ensemble: Oliwier Andruszczenko (clarinet), Wojciech Błażejczyk (electric guitar), Magdalena Bojanowicz (cello), Maciej Frąckiewicz (accordion), and Marta Grzywacz (voice), augmented by Marta Olko and Rafał Zapała (live electronics). The ensemble was led by conductor Michał Niedziałek whilst Marcin Wolniewicz assisted with the sound design.

Pope — A Musical!

An Italian musical about Pope John Paul II had its world premiere in Kraków on April 2, marking the ninth anniversary of the Polish pontiff’s death. Karol Wojtyła: The True Story begins with a depiction of the assassination attempt on the pope on St. Peter’s Square on May 13, 1981. However, the two-hour production focuses on the future pontiff’s rise to prominence in his native Poland. The pope is played by three Italian actors, each representing a different phase in the pontiff’s life. 3D technology is used to create a hologram of the pontiff on-stage and archival footage will also be woven into the production.

The score has been written by Noa, an Israeli pop star who knew the late pontiff. Noa sang a rendition of Ave Maria for John Paul II in 1994. The musical was staged at Kraków’s Juliusz Słowacki Theatre before it moved to Warsaw for two performances on April 8 and April 9.

[source: http://www.thenews.pl/]

World Premiere Of Half-Filled Diary

Aleksander Nowak’s work Dziennik zapełniony w połowie [A Diary Half Full] for cello, percussion and strings was world-premiered on April 10 by cellist Magdalena Bojanowska and Wrocław Chamber Orchestra led by Ernst Kovacic during the Musica Polonica Nova Festival. Commissioned in 2013 by Czytelnia Sztuki Muzeum in Gliwice, the work is in five movements and bears the following annotation by the composer:

Jan B. lived for the greater part of the twentieth century and a small part of the twenty-first century. Born and raised in the Wieluń area, he spent his adult life in Gliwice. He had a wife, two children and five grandchildren. He was a mechanical engineer and spent most of his time in the workshop and garage. He patented several technological solutions in the field of building machines. He designed a perpetual motion machine. He abused alcohol. He was rather unhappy and lonely. In the years 1945-1953 he wrote a diary; he filled around half of the approximately 300-page notebook.

[Source: http://www.pwm.com.pl/]

Górecki’s Fourth World-Premiered

Henryk Mikołaj Górecki’s Symphony No. 4 was world-premiered on April 12, at the Royal Festival Hall in London. The London Philharmonic Orchestra was conducted by Andrey Boreyko. This posthumously-premiered work will be presented by the Los Angeles Philharmonic and at the Zaterdag Matinee concert series in Amsterdam during the 2015/2016 season.

Written for orchestra, organ and piano, Górecki’s Fourth bears the subtitle Tansman Episody, and was inspired by Andrzej Wendland, the organiser of the Aleksander Tansman Festival in Łódź. Its premiere was originally scheduled for April 2010 at the Royal Festival Hall’s Polish Year Festival, but Górecki was unable to finish the work due to ill health. After his death, the score was orchestrated by Górecki’s son, Mikolaj, according to the book recently published by PWM, Górecki. Portret w pamięci [Górecki, A Portrait from Memory].

[Source: http://www.pwm.com.pl/]

Kocyan & Szpakiewicz At Loyola

On Saturday, April 12, pianist and Artist-in-Residence at Loyola Marymount, Wojciech Kocyan, presented a recital of works for cello and piano with guest artist Marek Szpakiewicz. Beethoven’s Sonata Op. 5 no. 2, Chopin’s Nocturnes (Op. 27 no. 2 and Op. 55 no. 2 in transcription for cello and piano), and the Op. 40 Sonata for Cello and Piano by Shostakovich were on the program.

Source: www.cfa.lmu.edu/programs/music

All Chopin, All Free

The Chopin Foundation of the United States recently presented two free concerts featuring young piano students from southern Florida. Thirteen budding virtuosos performed works by Frederic Chopin at the Broward Main Library in Fort Lauderdale on Saturday, April 12 and at Granada Presbyterian Church in Coral Gables on Sunday, April 13. Both concerts were at 3 p.m.

Source: www.chopin.org

Kordaczuk World Premiere

A world premiere of Jarosław Kordaczuk’s Strumenti della Passione was given at the Lutosławski Concert Studio in Warsaw on Sunday, April 13. This Palm Sunday concert also featured other Easter-themed works by Johann Sebastian Bach, Johann Christoph Bach, and Frederik Österling.

[source: http://www.studianagran.com.pl]

Beethoven Easter Festival

Famous orchestras, chamber ensembles, soloists from Europe and all over the world, great conductors and masterpieces of classical music, and on top of that the first International Classical Music Award Gala in Poland – the 18th Ludwig van Beethoven Easter Festival began on April 6.

The highlights included the Emerson String Quartet performing at the Easter Festival at the Royal Castle in Warsaw (April 12-13), and a concert by the Beethoven Academy Orchestra, one of Poland’s youngest and most professional orchestras, led by Christian Vásquez (April 15). Viennese pianist Rudolf Buchbinder’s piano works were performed by Turkish pianist and composer Fazis Say, who made a debut at the festival and presented his own ballads and jazz fantasies  on April 17.

The concluding evening of the Festival on Good Friday featured the dramatic The Seven Last Words of our Savior on the Cross by Joseph Haydn. A chamber version of the work, arranged by the composer, was presented to the Warsaw audience by the Leipziger Streichquartett.

A full calendar of events can be found at www.beethoven.org.pl.

Paremski Plays Chopin

Pianist Natasha Paremski will perform Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 2 in F minor with the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra on Saturday, April 26 and Sunday, April 27. The program will also feature a world premiere of This Ease by Hanna Lash and Joseph Haydn’s Symphony No. 102. The LA Chamber Orchestra will be led by Maestro Jeffrey Kahane. The Saturday concert will be held at the Alex Theatre in Glendale and the Sunday performance is at UCLA’s Royce Hall.

Saturday, April 26, 2014 | 8:00 pm
LACO 6 Chopin: Piano Concerto
Alex Theatre – Glendale, CA

 Sunday, April 27, 2014 | 8:00 pm
LACO 6 Chopin: Piano Concerto
Royce Hall – UCLA, CA

Tickets for both performances are available at http://www.laco.org/.

Zimerman To Launch Knapik’s Concerto

Concerto of Song Offerings for piano solo, choir and orchestra is the title of Eugeniusz Knapik’s work, which the composer is preparing for the grand opening of the National Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra’s new home in Katowice. It will be premiered on October 1 by Krystian Zimerman.

The work uses two verses by Rabindranath Tagore in the English original from the book of poems called Song Offerings.

[Source: http://www.pwm.com.pl/]


New Releases From Acte Préalable

Aleksander Tansman (1897-1986): Cinq impromptus pour piano (1922-1926); Arabesque, Six pieces pour piano (1930); Huit novelettes pour piano (1936). Performed by Elżbieta Tyszecka, piano. AP 0326

Although today Aleksander Tansman is chiefly remembered as a prolific Polish composer associated with the neoclassical École de Paris, he also toured extensively as a pianist in the 1930s, performing with the Boston Symphony Orchestra under Serge Koussevitzky, and appearing in concerts for Emperor Hirohito of Japan and Mahatma Gandhi. During the World War II years Tansman lived in Los Angeles, and composed music for Hollywood films, earning the Academy Award Nomination in 1946 for his score to Paris Underground.

The most recent recording of Tansman’s solo piano works by Eżbieta Tyszecka for Acte Préalable represents but a small slice of the composer’s extensive catalogue of over 100 works for piano. Hopefully more of Tansman’s compositions will be forthcoming in the near future.

Pietroń’s Debut CD. Ludvig van Beethoven – Piano Sonata No. 8 in C minor, Op. 13 “Pathetique”; Fryderyk Chopin – Études op. 10 no 3 in E major and no 12 in C minor; Fryderyk Chopin – Berceuse in D flat major op. 57; Fryderyk Chopin – Scherzo no. 2 in B flat minor op. 31; Claude Debussy – Bruyeres – Calme – (Préludes book II no 5); Claude Debussy – Estampes : no 1 – Pagodes & no 3 – Jardins sous la pluie.

Pianist, conductor and writer, Katarzyna Pietroń’s recital of selected works by Beethoven, Chopin and Debussy was just released by Acte Préalable. This project was supported by the Narodowe Centrum Kultury, and the Koło Solistów i Kameralistów [The Society of Soloists and Chamber Musicians], of which Ms. Pietroń is an active member. AP0328

Cypian Bazylik of Sieradz: Polish Renaissance Songs performed by Choir Cantilena, Sieradz; Subtilior Ensemble; Ensemble Ars Nova; Jacek Urbaniak, director. World Premiere Recording AP 0325

Here we have another interesting entry and a much-needed reference recording of works by Cyprian Bazylik. This Polish composer of the Renaissance (b. circa 1535, died c. 1600) is also known as Ciprianus Siradiensis or Cyprian of Sieradz. A graduate of the Kraków Academy, besides composing music he was also an accomplished painter and a leading Polish poet. Active in Calvinist circles, Bazylik received a nobility title and thanks to a recommendation by Mikołaj Radziwiłł, he was employed by King Zygmunt August’s Court in Wilno (today Vilnius, Lithuania).

Strongly connected to the Reformation movement in Poland, Bazylik was one of the first writers to use Polish and translate a number of Latin texts into the Polish. His poetry in Polish is regarded as highly as his music. Regrettably, Bazylik’s extant catalogue of musical works is rather scant: only about a dozen works for choir a cappella that come from the Zamość Songbook and a few others found in tablatures that survived in various libraries throughout Poland.

New Releases on DUX

Marian Borkowski Choral Works. Performers: Polski Chór Kameralny conducted by Jan Łukaszewski DUX 0995

Professor Marian Borkowski (b. 1934) is a composer, musicologist and educator. He teaches composition at the Fryderyk Chopin University of Music in Warsaw and as a visiting professor at universities in Montreal, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Atlanta, Houston, Miami and others. This DUX release features selections of Borkowski’s choral works, composed during the past two decades. The entire catalogue of compositions and a detailed biography of the composer can be found at: www.marianborkowski.pl

Witold Lutosławski: Chamber Works. Performers: New Music Orchestra, Szymon Bywalec, conductor DUX 0949

Two CDs with Witold Lutosławski’s chamber and vocal works were recently released by DUX, continuing the celebrations of the composer’s centenary that began in 2013. One of the performers, the New Music Orchestra, dedicates its mission to performing music by modern Polish composers. On this recording however, they feature several of Lutosławski’s early classics, including the Little Suite, 10 Polish Dances for Chamber Orchestra, Dance Preludes, Jeux Vénitiens as well as his later works like Chain 1 and Slides.

Witold Lutosławski: Vocal-Instrumental Works. Performers: Artur Rubinstein Łódź Philharmonic and Choir conducted by Daniel Raiskin Chor i Orkiestra Symfoniczna Filharmonii lodzkiej im. Artura Rubinsteina – dyr. Daniel Raiskin with soloists RafałRafal BartmińskiBartminski, tenor, StanisławStanislaw Kierner, baritone, and Łucjalucja Szablewska-Borzykowska, soprano. DUX 0806

The Łódź Philharmonic will celebrate its own centenary in 2015. On this DUX recording they pay homage to Lutosławski’s centenary by presenting his early Lacrimosa alongside four large-scale works written to texts by French poets, Trois poèmes d’Henri Michaux, Paroles tissées, Les espaces du sommeil, and Chantefleurs et Chantefables.

Castrum Doloris: Old Polish Burial Ceremonies. Performers: Bornus Consort; The Gorczycki Sarmatian Choir; Vocal Quartet Tempus; The Times of the Plague Orchestra, Robert PożarskiPozarski, artistic leadership; Scola Gregoriana Silesiensis; Ensemble of Ancient Instruments Concerto Antemurale.  DUX 1104

This CD is dedicated to the tradition of lavish funeral rites once popular in the Commonwealth of Poland and Lithuania. Castrum doloris (Latin for “Castle of Grief”) was an intricate construction (including a baldachin, arrangements of candles and wreaths, as well as a pentagonal portraits affixed to the coffin) that accompanied elaborate funerals of the nobles and royalty. With a selection of Requiems, Sequentias, Dies Iraes, and Lux Aeternas, this recording presents the musical side of the proceedings that seem just as fascinating aurally as the physical paraphernalia connected to this long-forgotten ritual.

Krzysztof Penderecki: Polymorphia, Anaklasis, Fluorescences, Threnody to the Victims of Hiroshima, Intermezzo, Kosmogonia

Naxos NAC-LP002-03

Maestro Antoni Wit leads the Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra, Warsaw Philharmonic and Warsaw Chamber Philharmonic orchestras in a 2-disc set of Penderecki’s best-known compositions. Other artists on these recordings include soloists Rafał Bartmiński, Tomasz Konieczny, Olga Pasichnyk and Warsaw Philharmonic Choir. This April 2014 NAXOS release elicited positive comments from David Hurwitz at ClassicsToday.com:

Antoni Wit’s ongoing cycle of Penderecki orchestral works is yet another of those truly outstanding Naxos projects that’s unlikely to get the attention it deserves. The music isn’t easy, or popular, but Wit is a marvelous conductor in this repertoire, and his unfailingly intense and idiomatic performances look to become the standard by which all others will be judged.


Born This Month

  • 1 April 1872 – Tadeusz JOTEYKO, composer (d. 20 August 1932)
  • 3 April 1904 – Maria WILKOMIRSKA, pianist professor of piano in Lodz and Warsaw
  • 4 April 1941 – Aleksander GLINKOWSKI, composer active in Katowice (d. 1991)
  • 8 April 1890 – Zbigniew DRZEWIECKI, pianist and professor of piano, organizer of Chopin Competitions, president of Chopin Society
  • 9 April 1880 – Stanislaw LIPSKI, pianist and composer (d. 6 October 1937)
  • 9 April 1951 – Andrzej KRZANOWSKI, composer (d. 1990)
  • 13 April 1890 – Ludwik BRONARSKI, musicologist (d. 1975)
  • 18 April 1903 – Tadeusz KWIECINSKI, composer (d. 11 July 1960)
  • 21 April 1907 – Antoni SZALOWSKI, composer (d. 21 March 1973)
  • 29 April 1880 – Adolf CHYBIŃSKI, musicologist, professor of universities in Lwów and Pozńan (d. 31 October 1952)


Died This Month

  • 5 April 1935 – Emil MŁYNARSKI, conductor, violinist, composer, music director of the Warsaw Opera, (b. 18 August 1870)
  • 6 April 2006 – Augustyn BLOCH, composer and organist, vice-President of ZKP [Polish Composesrs’ Union] from 1983-1987 (b. 13 August 1929)
  • 9 April 1944 – Boleslaw WALLEK-WALEWSKI, conductor and composer, active in Krakow, Warsaw and Pozńan (b. 23 January 1885)
  • 11 April 1938 – Bronislawa WÓJCIK-KEUPRULIAN, musicologist, professor of Lwów University, specialist in Chopin and Armenian music (b. 6 August 1890)
  • 12 April 1956 – Tadeusz STRUMIŁŁO, musicologist, professor of Jagiellonian University, with Z. Szweykowski discovered over 200 compositions of 18th, 19th c. (b. 10 July 1929)
  • 13 April 2007 – Andrzej KURYLEWICZ, composer and conductor, best known for jazz but also wrote classical works and music for film, TV, and theather (b. 24 Nov 1932)
  • 15 April 1945 – Feliks WRÓBEL, composer and music theorist (b. 15 May 1894)
  • 18 April 1854 – Józef ELSNER, composer, founder of Warsaw Conservatory, teacher of Chopin (b. 1 June 1769)
  • 18 April 2006 – Maria DZIEWULSKA, composer, music theoretician and dedicated educator (b. 1 June 1909)
  • 24 April 1845 – Anna WOLKOW-STANIUKIEWICZ, soprano, singer of Warsaw Opera (b. 26 August 1808)
  • 25 April 1951 – Jerzy FITELBERG, composer, son of conductor Grzegorz, since 1933 lived in Paris, 1940 in New York (b. 20 May 1903)
  • 28 April 1928 – Henryk MELCER-SZCZAWINSKI, pianist, teacher, conductor, professor and chair of the Warsaw Conservatory of Music (b. 21 September 1869)
  • 30 April 1998 – Roman MACIEJEWSKI, composer, pianist (b. 28 February 1910)