November 1999

Polish Music Reference Center Newsletter Vol. 5, no. 11


News Flash!


Chopin Anniversaries And Chopin’s Heart

On 17th October the world went crazy for Chopin. Of the hundreds of concert dedicated to the great composer and scheduled for that day, the most notable were events held in his birth place, the city where he died and, where his heart is buried. At noon, Halina Czerny-Stefanska began her solo recital at the Chopin birthplace in Żelazowa Wola.

At 6:00 p.m. the National Philharmonic hall was filled with listeners who came to enjoy a “happy” anniversary concert of Sinfonia Varsovia (conducted by Jan Krenz) featuring such international favourites as J.S. Bach’s Aria on the G string, Mozart’s Symphony in G minor no. 40, and, of course, Chopin’s Piano Concerto in F minor, performed with great sensitivity by Nelson Freire. A prominent name on the program was that of Grzegorz Fitelberg, conductor and composer who arranged Chopin’s Polonaise in A major op. 40 as well as Bach’s Aria for large symphony orchestra. The arrangements faithfully reflected the spirit of their times – with dramatic flourishes and romantic outpourings of emotions reminiscent of Stokowski’s Bach transcriptions.

Jan Krenz (b. 1926), honorary director of the National Symphonic Orchestra of the Polish Radio belongs to the generation of Polish musicians who created the foundations for musical life after World War II. He worked as opera conductor, premiered numerous new pieces of contemporary music, led – as a guest conductor – Berliner Philharmoniker, Saatskapelle Dresden, various London orchestras. He worked as a music director of Orchester der Beethovenhalle, and Danish Radio Orchestra in Kopenhagen. His musical style presented in the concert, continues the tradition of Bernstein (if not Karajan) with a noble, nearly grandiose Mozart and romantically expressive Bach. While discussing the selection of works for this program after the concert with Prof. Mieczysław Tomaszewski, Krenz stated that the motivation of surrounding Chopin not with pieces by his contemporaries, but by his great compositional models, was to celebrate the joy and love of music that Chopin had and that he shared with Bach and Mozart.

The Warsaw celebrations ended with a 9 p.m. performance of Mozart’s Requiem at the Holy Cross Church in Warsaw, where the pillar in which Chopin’s heart has been buried, was surrounded by wreaths and flowers. The four soloists, gathered for this occasion from four countries, sounded as united in voice and spirit as four different artists possibly can. The voices of Lynne Dawson (soprano), Stefania Toczyska (mezzosoprano), Keith Lewis (tenor), and Jaakko Ryhanen (bass) blended in a miraculous mixture of sounds filling in the arches and naves of the church, raising above the crowded pews and aisles. The choir, prepared by the perfectionist conductor Henryk Wojnarowski, and the National Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by its leader, Kazimierz Kord, have reached levels of artistry that are rarely heard. The encore, appropriately, was the Lacrimosa.

The full significance of this event may be understood when remembering that the Mozart Requiem was performed at Chopin’s funeral in fulfillment of his wishes and that his best friends participated in that performance. To so beautifully recreate this moment in a place where Chopin’s heart rests – taken back to his homeland at his request – required a great artistic integrity and a touch of genius.

At 7 p.m. in Paris, Polish Festival Orchestra formed and conducted by Krystian Zimerman began the most important concert of its world tour with a new version of Chopin’s both piano concerti – held at Salle Pleyel, where Chopin himself had played in the past. Our report from this event will be provided in 2000 by Jan Jakub Bokun, Polish clarinetist and USC student in the departments of clarinet and conducting, who was selected to join the Polish Festival Orchestra for this project. [MAH]


The Chopin Year


 

Fryderyk Chopin Festival In Washington, D.C.

November 6, 1999, marks the beginning of a month-long Fryderyk Chopin Festival commemorating the 150 Anniversary of Chopin’s death in Washington, D.C. This celebration is held under the patronage of His Excellency Ambassador of Poland and His Excellency Ambassador of France. Sponsors include Polish Ministry of Culture and Arts while the organizer is Malgorzata Markowska (the daughter of the late Polish conductor and composer, Andrzej Markowski). The inaugural recital will be held at the Kreeger Museum, with an all-Chopin program given by Janusz Olejniczak. The Chopin Festival includes also the following events:

  • Concert of young audience, with Roman Markowicz, soloist, Levine School of Music (Nov 7);
  • Lecture about “The 19th-Century Geopolitical Forces that Influenced Fryderyk Chopin” by Adam Zamoyski (Nov 8);
  • Concert of Polish Festival Orchestra with Krystian Zimerman, Chopin’s piano concerti; Kennedy Center, Terrace Theatre (Nov 10);
  • Ewa Osinska, recital at the International Finance Corporation (Nov 12);
  • Screening of film by Andrzej Zulawski, “Blue Note” with participation of Janusz Olejniczak, The National Gallery of Art (Nov 13)
  • Piano-Vocal Recital, with Janusz Olejniczak -pianist, Olga Pasiecznik- soprano; Museum Dumbarton Oaks (Nov 14-15);
  • “Chopin Improvised” by Adam Makowicz, jazz pianist, La Maison Francaise (Nov 16);
  • Lecture about “Chopin and Delacroix” by Arlette Serullaz, Director, Delacroix Museum of Paris (Nov 17);
  • Recital by pianist Wojciech Switala, Embassy of Poland (Nov 18);
  • “Fryderyk Chopin and George Sand in Letters” – with Elzbieta Czyzewska, Mathieu Carriere, actors, and pianist : Janusz Olejniczak, pianist, The Kennedy Center Terrace Theatre (Nov 19);
  • Recital by pianist Wojciech Switala, Phillips Collection (Nov 21);
  • Recital by pianist Juana Zajas, La Maison Francaise (Nov 23);
  • Chamber Music by Fryderyk Chopin, Janise Martin, violin; Steven Honigberg, cello; Carol Honigberg, piano, La Maison Francaise (Nov 29).

Chopin Exhibitions In Poland

The Chopin Year celebrations include several exhibitions, three of which take place in Warsaw: at the Chopin Society, the Wilanow Poster Museum and at the National Library. In conjunction with 150th anniversary of the death of Frederic Chopin, the Chopin Society is presenting an exhibition entitled Chopin – Fame Resounding Far and Near (Chopin daleko rozsławił swe imiê). It can be viewed until the 17th of October at the Chopin Society’s headquarters in the Ostrogski Castle on ul. Okólnik 1. After that it moves onto Tokyo and Osaka as part of the celebrations of the 80th anniversary of the establishment of Polish-Japanese diplomatic relationships. The exhibition is divided into five parts: 1. The composer’s life with his family (Papa, Mama…dzieci), 2. Chopin’s life as a musician in Poland (Nic mnie za kraj nie cišgnie), 3. His life abroad (Ten inny œwiat), 4. Chopin’s relationship with his lover George Sand – the pseudonym for the French author Amadine Aurore Lucie Dupin – (On vous adore) and 5. A collection of photos, paintings, sketches, medals and jewelry made of Chopin during the 19th and 20th centuries (Chopin…jednym z najwyższych symboli zeuropeizowanej Polski). The exhibition could be viewed daily until October 17 – the date of Chopin’s death – from 10:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m.

The second exhibition is at the Wilanów Poster Museum located next to King Jan III Sobieski’s palace in Wilanów. It features posters related to Chopin competitions and concerts. The third display, held at the National Library in Warsaw, presents Chopin transcriptions, including the Norman Dello Joio arrangements of Chopin songs for chorus and orchestra. During the Chopin Congress, the National Library presented a one-day display of the Chopin manuscripts in its possession, including the 24 Preludes, a fascimile of which has been recently issued.

Other Chopin musical events during October include a series of 12 concerts on which all of Chopin’s compositions have been played by professors and students of the Chopin Academy of Music on 2 Okólnik St. Also, several laureates of former Chopin competitions will be featured in piano recitals this month at the National Philharmonic Hall . At the National Opera House not only can you see a ballet choreographed to the music of Chopin entitled Fortepianissimo, but you can also hear an orchestral concert featuring Polish pianist Piotr Anderszewski and Chinese pianist Fou Ts’ong. [JH]


The Chopin Club In Warsaw

The Chopin Club in Warsaw has been reactivated with a recital by Stanislaw Bunin, winner of the Chopin Competition in 1985. Members will meet every few weeks until the International Competition in 2000.


More Chopin Performances

A variety of Chopin concerts took place last month; selected events are listed below:

Mannes College of Music continues its series of free Thursday night recitals in which the complete works of Chopin will be performed. Youthful works composed from 1832 to 1837 were featured on 21 Oct.

Pianist Cyprien Katsaris played a Chopin recital at Carnegie Hall on Sunday 16 Oct.

A Chopin concert at the Polish Cultural Foundation in Clark, NJ; featured pianists – Allen and Peter Yu and the Esprit de Chorus under the direction of Janusz Sporek.

Pianist Mei-Tin performed at the Polish community Center in New York. Sponsored by the New York Dance and Arts Association.

In San Francisco: Wanda Tomczykowska, president of the Polish Arts and Culture Foundation of San Francisco, prepared an exhibit on “Chopin – The Polish Musical Genius” for the San Francisco Main Library, through 27 December. Her group also sponsored a joint benefit concert with Old First Church on 17 Oct at the Church. It featured pianists Aglika Angelova, Hans Boepple, Lois Branwynne, Sarah Cahill, William Corbett-Jones, Daniel Glover, Robert Helps, Sharon Mann, Inara Morgenstern, Victoria Neve, Stephen Prutsman, Thomas Shultz, William Wellborn and Betty Woo and Sara Ganz, sop., Robert Waters, violin, Jean Michel Fonteneau and Tanya Tompkins, cello.

Jon Nakamatsu performed Chopin’s Fantaisie and Scherzo in a recital, which also included the Haydn and Rachmaninoff Sonatas at the El Camino Center for the Arts.

Radio KCSN.FM (88.5) in Southern California presented “The Life of Chopin” with Kevin Kenner from 11 to noon on 7 October.

Playing Chopin locally were Mary Macdonald at the First Presbyterian Church in Inglewood and Mark Goodrich, tenor with Eduardo Delgado, piano at Cal State Fullerton.


News


Kaczmarek’s Music For Holland’s The Third Miracle

On 27 October 1999, Agnieszka Holland’s new film, “The Third Miracle,” received its premiere in a gala performance opening the American Film Institute’s 1999 Festival in West Hollywood. The music for the film, composed by Jan A.P. Kaczmarek, has greatly impressed the premiere’s audience who attributed a part of the success of the profound and challenging film to the quality of the score.

The film presents issues of faith and love life of a Catholic priest who works as an investigator “debunking” supposed miracles, but ends up believing in one. Agnieszka Holland had discussed the subject of this new film during her meeting with members of the Modjeska Club of Polish Arts and Culture (held in Huntington Beach in May 1999, see her photo from this event; for more information visit the Modjeska Club web site).

Jan A. P. Kaczmarek’s previous collaboration with Holland resulted in music for her Washington Square, an adaptation of a novel by Henry James. He commented about this work, stating that: “I grew up in a school that believes music must convey strong emotions in a spiritual context. Music that doesn’t communicate important emotions to me is worthless.” Kaczmarek recently signed a contract with Sony Classical for three albums of concert pieces; his career as a film composer is a recent one (last five years). WIth a law degree and association with Poland’s dissident movement, Kaczmarek is an unlikely choice for a “Hollywood film composer.” He composed for politicized underground theatre and for his own “Orchestra of the Eighth Day” which performed during Solidarity strikes against the Communist government of the early eighties. The most important theatrical influence on Kaczmarek was that of director of experimental theatre “Laboratorium,” Jerzy Grotowski. After touring Europe with his orchestra, Kaczmarek performed and made recordings in the U.S., where he settled in 1989.

As a musician, he is a five-time winner in Jazz Forum’s Jazz Top Poll. As a composer of theatre music, he won an Obie and Drama Desk Award for his music for 1992 production of John Ford’s “This Pity She’s A Whore.” Since then he composed scores for seven film including Holland’s “Total Eclipse” (with Leonardo DiCaprio and David Thewlis), and the just premiered “The Third Miracle.” For more information about the composer you may visit his web site at: http://kaczmarek.org/.


Kilar In Concert

Concert of music by Wojciech Kilar entitled, “Time to begin the Polonaise” was presented at the Warsaw National Philharmonic. Kazimierz Kord led the orchestra in fragments from Andrzej Wajda’s film, “Pan Tadeusz” and Kilar’s symphonic poem, “Krzesany,” “Orawa” for chamber orchestra and his Piano concerto. Kilar who is best known in the U.S. for his music to the movies “Dracula” and “Portrait of a Lady,” is a highly respected composer of symphonic music and Polish films, including all of Krzysztof Zanussi’s output. [JH]


Fołtyn’s 50th Anniversary

Maria Fołtyn, tireless promoter of the music of Stanisław Moniuszko (father of Polish opera), is celebrating 50 years of artistic work. A Moniuszko Gala was held in Poznań with fragments from his two most popular operas (Halka and Haunted Manor) sung by soloists Barbara Kubiak, Agnieszka Wolska, Krzysztof Bednarek, Marcin Bronikowski and Jan Borowicz with the Poznan Philharmonic led by its director, Jose Maria Florencio, Jr. Ms. Fołtyn, a former operatic star of the Łódź and Warsaw Opera companies, is known for her recent artistic and innovative productions of the Moniuszko operas, not only in Poland but also in Cuba and Japan. She also is the founder of the annual “Moniuszko Festival” in Kudowa-Zdroj and the International Moniuszko Vocal Competition in Warsaw. [WW]


Malecki’s Balladyna Premiere

A new radio opera based on a drama by the great Polish poet Juliusz Slowacki received its premiere in the Lutoslawski Concert Hall of Polish Radio in Warsaw. Music to “Balladyna” was composed by Michal Malecki. Slawek Wroblewski conducted the Polish Radio Orchestra and Collegium Musicum Choir. A double anniversary commemorating the 190th birthday and 150th death of Slowacki will take place in 2000.


12th International Festival in Radom

The XII International Festival of Organ and Chamber Music in Radom-Oronsko ended with a concert of sacred music presented by soprano Teresa Zylis-Gara and organist Robert Grudzien.


Fulbright Anniversary In Warsaw

A benefit concert for the Polish-U.S. Fulbright Commission took place at the Teatr Wielki in Warsaw on Friday, October 22. The concert marked the 40th anniversary of the Fulbright Program in Poland, was organized by Elzbieta Penderecka and performed by the newly-formed Penderecki Festival Orchestra consisting of members from Sinfonia Varsovia and conducted by Heinrich Schiff. The orchestra played works by Haydn, Mozart, and the Triple Concerto by Beethoven, featuring as soloists: 17-year-old Canadian pianist, Berenika Zakrzewski, cellist Adam Klocek, and violinist Anna Karkowska.

The orchestra also premiered a new composition by Michael Ferriell Zbyszyñski, a Ph.D. candidate in the Music Department at the University of California, Berkeley. The twenty-nine-year old American Fulbrighter, originally from Boston, has been based in San Francisco since 1994. In 1998 the composer was awarded a Fulbright Research Grant and studied composition Zbigniew Bujarski at the Academy of Music in Cracow. Zbyszyñski’s composition for strings and percussion, entitled “Beneath a Liquid Paper Sky,” was written in the early part of 1999, while he was living in the former Polish capital.

The composer wrote of his piece: “The title refers to the particular color that the sky has in winter – February especially – when even cloud cover creates an almost dimensionless white, luminescent void… In March 1999, I heard a performance of Lutosławski’s “Funeral Music” by the Aukso Chamber Orchestra. That piece suggested the further division of each section of the string orchestra, although, I took the additional step of arranging the instruments symmetrically on stage. This two-sided set-up (probably inspired by my work with electronic music) allowed me to develop the hockets and minimalist textures that characterize sections of the piece. Contrasted with them are sections of more traditional string orchestra writing -polyphonic melody and expressive gesture.” The world premiere of this Polish-American composer’s work took place under the baton of the young Polish conductor Paweł Przytocki.

The inaugural concert of the Penderecki Festival Orchestra took place on the opening night of the Warsaw Autumn Festival – but not as part of the festival. It took place in Holy Cross Church and featured Penderecki’s “Credo.” The concert marked the 60th anniversary of the Soviet invasion of Poland, however, the coincidence with the opening date of the major contemporary music event, known many months in advance, was most unfortunate. [JH]


Internet News


 Lira Ensemble Web Page

The professional music and dance ensemble devoted to Polish heritage and based in Chicago now has its own Internet site and e-mail address (previously only the Lira Dancers were present on the Web). People can visit our web page at www.liraensemble.com or send e-mail to lira@liraensemble.com.


Mitmusic – New Releases

Online Polish music store has new recordings available, mostly of popular music. The new releases advertised recently appear on the internet with sound samples, so one can listen before buying. Newly available recordings include rock groups: Boom box, Mister Dex, Collage, Pod Buda, Papa Dane, and singers, Jacek Kaczmarski, Marek Grechuta, Andrzej Zaucha. The recording of the voice of Pope John Paul II belongs to a different category altogether, but is available as well. For more information contact Eve Niedzielska at info@mitmusic.com or visit the web site: www.mitmusic.com.


New Books


Tomaszewski On Chopin

Poland’s foremost Chopin specialist and the president of the Polish Chopin Academy (as well as professor of Academy of Music in Cracow), Mieczysław Tomaszewski published a monumental study of the life, work and reception of Poland’s greatest composer (848 pages!).

The book, entitled Chopin: Człowiek, Dzieło, Rezonans (Chopin: Man, Work, Resonance), is a significantly enlarged version of Tomaszewski’s 1984 doctoral dissertation (Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznań). The book consists of three volumes subdivided into nine parts (but bound in one cover). The exploration of Chopin’s life touches upon his image as a person, pianist and composer. The second volume is an “attempts at an integral interpretation” of the whole output of the composer, organized into segments of musical elements, texture, genres and formes, aesthetics, poetics and expression, style and its phases. Finally, the “resonance” volume deals with Chopin reception, both in terms of attitudes towards his work by musicians, Chopin fans, and scholars, and the reception by composers who followed, imitated and developed Chopin’s musical ideas.

Tomaszewski’s Chopin study has been handsomely published in hardcover by Podsiedlik-Raniowski i Spolka, a new publishing house based in Poznan (1998). Its appearance was made possible by grants from the Foundation of Culture and the Ministry of Culture and Arts of the Republic of Poland, as well as cooperation with the publishing house Ars Nova. The book received the prestigious annual award from the Ministry of Culture and Arts (see below for a full list of winners). [MAH]


Essays On Augustyn Bloch

Martina Homma’s Bela Verlag of Cologne has issued a volume of studies and interviews devoted to Augustyn Bloch (b. ). The volume, edited by eminent Polish-music specialist, Detlef Gojowy, includes a 30 page interview with the composer, followed by two essays by Bloch (on Darmstadter Ferienkurse and on his own music for children), and five commentaries about his music (by Mieczyslaw Kominek, Detlef Gojowy, Lutz Lesle and the composer).

The last part of the book consists of biographical notes, list of works with discography and bibliography, as well as an indes (prepared by Martina Homma). The Bloch volume, the first book-size study of the Polish composer, is a valuable addition to the literature about this remarkable individual. An English version would be welcome.


Dybowski On Raul Koczalski

The founder of Selene Records, Stanislaw Dybowski, published the first title in the book series that provide biographical and historical information about great Polish musicians whose archival recordings have recently been released on CD by Selene.

The first title in that series is devoted to Raul Koczalski, Polish pianist and composer, one of the most devoted and active Chopin performers of the world. During his lifetime Koczalski gave over 4,500 concerts, mostly including works by Chopin. He was the first pianist to present cycles of Chopin concerts, and perform formerly neglected pieces. As an emigre, however, he was more appreciated abroad than in his home country. Dybowski’s book, and his releases of a whole series of Koczalski’s archival recordings, fill in a gap in Polish music history.

The 250 pages of the book present Koczalski’s life and career as a performer and composer – this part is richly illustrated with documents and photos. The work concludes with testimonies from Polish musicians who studied with Koczalski or remembered him as a great influence over their own artistic careers. [MAH]


Paderewski For Youth

A new book on Paderewski has been published by Morgan Reynolds. Written as part of the Champion of Freedom Series for young adults by Elaine Slivinski Lisandrelli, it provides “an overview of the life of Poland’s great pianist and political leader.” Reviewed by Florence Waszkelewicz Clowes in the October issue of the Polish American Journal, who concludes that “Young readers will enjoy this enthralling compact biography.” A good present to buy in honor of Paderewski’s birthday on November 6th. [WW]


Awards


 1998 Awards Of The Ministry Of Culture And Arts

The annual Ministry of Culture and Arts awards for 1998 were recently presented to: Janusz Cegiella for his book on Alexander Tansman; Izabella Klosinska in the vocal category; Jan Krenz in music; Jozef Patkowski for promotion of contemporary music and Mieczyslaw Tomaszewski for his monograph on Chopin.


Polish Radio Award For Hiolski

The 1999 Music Award from Polish Radio went to Andrzej Hiolski, baritone, one of the most esteemed Polish musicians. Hiolski completed his vocal training in the Lvov Conservatory with M. Oleska and Adam Didur. His debut in Silesian opera in Bytom took place in 1946. His repertoire included major opera roles (he was the first baritone of the Teatr Wielki in Warsaw) as well as whole song cycles, parts in oratorios and works of contemporary music. His musicality and versatility were legendary. Hiolski performed world premieres of great works by Krzysztof Penderecki, including the historical peformance of the St. Luke’s Passion in the Cathedral in Munster (1966) and the Hamburg premiere of the Devils of Loudin (1969). While his LP recordings were well recognized (e.g. “Złota Muza” award for his recording of Moniuszko Songs in 1971), his CD discography is not very extensive. Perhaps this gap could be filled by one of the smaller CD companies, or even by the Polskie Nagrania who could reissue their LP releases of Hiolski, such as Collected Songs by Mieczysław Karłowicz (Muza XL 0185) or famous operatic arias (Muza SXL 0862).


Krauze Honored by the ISCM

Pianist and composer Zygmunt Krauze became an honorary member of the International Society for Contemporary Music. He joins other Polish composers awarded this honor: Karol Szymanowski, Witold Lutoslawski and Krzysztof Penderecki. Krauze has been an active member of the Society for many years – he has served as President of the Polish Section of the ISCM since mid-1980s (after the retirement from this position of Wlodzimierz Kotonski). He has also been active as an ISCM Board member, serving on the juries and various committees. Krauze’s 60th birth anniversary was celebrated during the 1998 Warsaw Autumn Festival of Contemporary Music – with special concerts and presentations.


Calendar Of Events


NOV 1: Byron Janis. Chopin recital. Carnegie Hall, NY, 8:00 p.m.

NOV 2: Chopin Concert, including chamber version of Piano Concerto no. 1. Jean-Marc Luisada, piano. Talich Quartet, Benjamin Berlioz, double bass. Wigmore Hall. London. 7:30 p.m.

NOV 6: Jan Kanty Pawluszkiewicz. “Nieszpory Ludzmierskie” (Vespers at Ludzmierz)” Mariusz Smolij, cond. New York premiere. St. Bartholomew’s Church, NY. 8:00 p.m.

NOV 6-29: FRYDERYK CHOPIN FESTIVAL, Washington, D.C., organized by Malgorzata Markowska, with support from the Polish and French ambassadors, and the Polish government. For a detailed list of events see above in the “The Chopin Year” section of this Newsletter.

NOV 8: Steven Stucky 50th Birthday Concert. Music of Stucky, Phibbs, Druckman and Lutoslawski (Chain 1). LA Philharmonic New Music Group, Steven Stucky, cond. Green Umbrella Series. 8:00 p.m. Japan America Theatre.

NOV 14:Vocal Recital of Dayle Vander Sande, tenor. Art songs including Italian arie antiche, works by Jacques Ibert, Fryderyk Chopin and Stephen Collins Foster in his Metropolitan Area debut recital. Tickets at the door; $7 adults/$5 students and senior citizens. St. Adalbert Parish 250 East Jersey Street Elizabeth, NJ 07206 (908) 352-2791 phone; (908) 354-2828 fax.

NOV 16: Rafal Kwiatkowski, cellist. Music of Chopin, de Falla and Barber. Young Concert Artists. 92nd Street Y. ( 212) 307-6655. 8:00 p.m. $20, $15. Students/Srs. Half price.

NOV 17: Polish spirit in Song and Piano. Polish Arts Club of Buffalo. (716) 634-5053.

NOV 20: Music of Chopin and Schumann. Andrei Diev, piano. Baldwin Aud. Duke U. 8:00 p.m.

NOV 23: Tribute to Chopin and Kilar. Esprit de chorus Symphonic Orchestra. Janusz Sporek, cond. Carnegie Hall. 212-247-7800. $15-$40.


Recent Performances


Szymanowski In New York

Charles Dutoit led his Montreal Symphony Orchestra in two masterpieces by Karol Szymanowski at Carnegie Hall on October 16th. The choral piece, “Stabat Mater” featured Polish artists Zofia Kilanowicz, soprano, Jadwiga Rappe, mezzosoprano, and Piotr Kusiewicz, baritone. The second half of the program was a concert version of the opera, “King Roger.” The music critic of the New York Times, Bernard Holland, described the program as “an exercise in taste and imagination that took excellence in execution for granted.”


Polish Students In California And Mexico

Students from the Chopin School of Music from Opole, Poland performed in Los Angeles, San Diego and Ensenada, Mexico during the month of October thanks to the Polish American Congress. The young high school students performed both classical music as well as jazz. Music by Polish composers Bacewicz, Chopin, Paderewski and Wieniawski, expertly played by violinist Maria Oldak and pianist Jolanta Budzicz and the jazz ensemble received standing ovations from the university students in Ensenada. Performances in Los Angeles included string quartets and jazz during the opening reception of the “Western Amerykanski” Polish poster exhibit at the Gene Autry Museum on Thursday night the 14th. The tour evolved as “concerts of gratitude” to the Polish American community in California for aid sent to their school after floods in Poland a few years ago destroyed much of their musical equipment.


Polish Concerts Of Berenika Zakrzewski

On 22 October 1999, Zakrzewski performed the piano part in Beethoven’s Triple Concerto during the Fulbright Anniversary concert (listed above). She also performed the same concerto in Czestochowa, during the Bronislaw Huberman Festival; the orchestra was conducted by Jerzy Swoboda. In Bialystok, she performed Mozart’s D-minor concerto with Sinfonia Academica. As a Canadian pianist she also gave a solo recital in Warsaw, at the invitation of the Canadian ambassador in Poland.


Pollack’s Chopin Recital

Review by Radosław Materka

Last Sunday, October 24th, Newman Hall at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles was the place of a special musical event. Pianist Daniel Pollack presented an all Chopin recital, commemorating the 150th anniversary of composer’s death. Musicians throughout the world have been presenting concerts and lectures dedicated to Fryderyk Chopin. This highly anticipated recital was a part of the anniversary presentations.

Daniel Pollack’s concert career has taken him across all five continents. As soloist, he appeared with most major orchestras worldwide including the New York Philharmonic, Los Angeles Philharmonic, London’s Royal Philharmonic, and Moscow State Orchestra among others. His recitals have been heard in the music centers such as: London’s Royal Festival Hall, Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw, Moscow’s Bolshoi Zal, New York’s Carnegie Hall, and Los Angeles Music Center. Mr. Pollack has also been a juror for numerous international piano competitions, including the Tchaikovsky Piano Competition in Moscow, the Queen Elizabeth Competition in Brussels, the Gina Bachauer, and the Hamamatsu Competitions. He is a prize- winner in the International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow. He issued several CD recordings, including the most recent interpretation of complete published piano works of Samuel Barber. Presently Daniel Pollack is a Professor of Piano at the University of Southern California.

During the concert, the listeners, sitting in the heavily overcrowded Newman Hall, witnessed a spectacular performance of some of Chopin’s best-known masterpieces. Sonata no.2 in B-flat Minor, op.35 was the first of the two sonatas performed that evening. From the first note, Pollack created an atmosphere of anticipation. With its countless colors and moods, the music embraced every single listener, and never let go. A superb sound projection of Daniel Pollack only added to the final effect. The Funeral March  well depicted a group of mourners approaching the audience, then leaving into nothingness. The Finale stated a question as it presented a powerful, almost violent image that left listeners asking: “What is there after death?” The Nocturne in D-flat Major, op. 27, no.2 was performed briskly and with a great amount of brightness, somehow balancing the torn emotions left from the previous piece. The pianist presented the 4th Ballade (op.52) as a kaleidoscope of quickly eroding images almost flashing on front of one’s eyes.

Three etudes: op.10, no.11, op.25, no.8, and op.25, no.10 were a display of the pianist’s masterful handling of the instrument. The first etude was performed lightly, and with rubato. The second piece in set was a display of true virtuosity, although played softly. The “octaves” etude closed the first part of the recital with its ferocious outer parts and beautiful play of inner voices in the middle section.

After the intermission, the pianist started off with the Berceuse op.57 in D-flat Major. Still moving in their seats listeners were quickly “hypnotized” by a constant ostinato of the left hand and mesmerizing melody in the upper voice. The last piece of the program was Sonata no.3 in B Minor, op.58. Here again, Pollack showed his creativity and understanding of the form of a great master. Following a long standing ovation, the pianist performed the Nocturne in C-sharp Minor, op. posthumous (this time quieter, and more contemplating than the first nocturne). Finally, the audiences cheered loudly after a bravura performance of the Polonaise in A-flat Major op.53.


Discography


 Zimerman’s Chopin Concerti

Look for the newest CD of Krystian Zimerman and the Chopin concerti. A recording was made in Turin and rush-released to coincide with the concert tour in Europe and the U.S. in October and November. “Chopin the Polish Way. Krystian Zimerman plays and conducts his new orchestra in the piano concertos” read the headline of the cover page of Gramaphone magazine. A feature article inside described this special project that the Polish pianist had dreamed about for over 20 years. Here are some highlights from the interview by Harriet Smith during rehearsals in Zimerman’s home town of Zabrze:

his former teacher, Andrzej Jasinski, was present.

the pianist rehearses long hours (anywhere from 7 to 21), painstakingly going over passages until they sound the way he wants them to.

he selected only Polish candidates for his “Polish Festival Orchestra” from 450 video tapes, which he viewed during the entire month of November last year; largely, because “in an international group the language problem in the rehearsals would be tremendous.”

the average age of the players is 20-something.

the tour of 91 days in 9 countries includes 39 concerts. “Zimerman swears that the fact that they ended up giving the same number of performances as years of Chopin’s life is a complete coincidence.”

travelling by bus within Europe and the U.S. for practical reasons of packing and unpacking instruments. hotel rooms were tested ahead of time for comfort, noise, smell , as well as kitchen facilities. “I’m feeding the whole orchestra for the entire tour – we’ve even worked out the menus so that it’s not chicken for 30 days.”From my meetings with Zimerman I learned that he is a specialist in acoustics. He has studied every concert hall in which he has played. He also travels with his own piano and before each concert has the piano tuned to bring out the best sound for each particular place. The Chopin Piano Concertos as presented by this famed Polish pianist will be “unique.” He will draw on his experience of 25 years working under the finest conductors throughout the world, among them Karajan, Guillini, Bernstein, Previn, Kondrashin. He decided to combine all the tricks he learned from them and to add some of his own. As a consequence, we will be hearing a “different” concerto – one in which the orchestra will have a more prominent position and one in which the orchestral sounds will be beautifully fused and integrated; one in which we will really hear the music of Chopin in a thoroughly “Polish way.” [WW]


150 Awards For Opus 111

Opus 111, founded by Yolanta Skura in 1990 in France, has gone on to receive over 150 awards and prizes. In an interview in Fanfare (Sep/Oct 1999) Ms. Skura describes her high ideals and “quest for perfection” stating that she founded her own label “with the high ideals of capturing on disc `performances in which the music, and not the personality of the performer, is expressed to perfection.'” Recently, Opus 111 created a special Chopin Exploration catalogue of ten discs that displays the music of Chopin in a variety of ways:

OPS 2006: 18th century Polish folk music on period instruments. The period-instrument group, Zespol Polski, performing the Polish dances from which Chopin drew much of his inspiration.

OPS 2007: Poland. Mazurkas and polonaises that sing of their heritage. Janusz Olejniczak playing some of Chopin’s early works on a 1831 Pleyel piano, the type of instrument the composer would have used.

OPS 2008: Warsaw 1830. The landmark concert that premiered the Second Piano Concerto on period instruments. Janusz Olejniczak and the Das Neue Orchester recreates the March 17th concert of 1830, in which Chopin appeared for the first time in Warsaw performing the Second Piano Concerto and the Fantasia on Polish Airs.

OPS 2009: France. The profound fulfillment of the Preludes and Etudes. Marking the arrival of Chopin in France, Grigory Sokolov brings his virtuoso approach to these works.

OPS 2010. At Home. A recital on an 1831 Pleyel performed by Sokolov.

OPS 2011. Intimate. Chopin & George Sand in letters and music. Read by famous fashion designer Sonia Rykiel in their original language (French). Musical examples are provided by Olejniczak and Sokolov.

OPS 2012. Paris 1848. A period instrument recreation of Chopin’s last concert in Paris on February 16, 1848, an event that also included music by Meyerbeer, Donizetti, and Bellini.

OPS 2013. Jazz. The revolutionary Andrzej Jagodzinski Trio performs jazz improvisations based on a number of his most popular piano works.

OPS 2014. Tomorrow. A contemporary synthesis transcending traditions. Leszek Mozdzer, a pianist and composer, seeks new styles of music inspired by Chopin.

OPS 2015. Exploration. A panorama across all genres and styles.


Penderecki’ Symphonies

Also look for the soon to be released cycle of 3 CDs of the Complete Orchestral Works of Krzysztof Penderecki, which will include all five symphonies. Antoni Wit just completed recording the first set with the National Symphony Orchestra of Polish Radio in Katowice


Time/Life Missing Chopin?

Incredible as it seems, Time/Life’s 5 CD-set of “Masterpieces of Clasiscal Music” does not, I repeat, not, include any Chopin work! The piano pieces represented are three Schumann pieces, Liszt’s “Liebestraum,” Carl Sinding’s “Rustle of Spring,” Brahms “Waltz in a major” and Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata.” To think that Chopin who revolutionized the art of piano playing and raised it to the highest plateau is not represented among the masterpieces of classical music is incomprehensible to me. I have returned my set in protest. [WW]


Releases:

MARSTON 52014-2. Josef Hofmann. The Complete Recordings, Vol. 6. The name of Ward Marston is known to music aficionados for his high quality transfers from old LP recordings. In a recent article by David Mermelstein in Classical Pulse, this CD was listed among the seven new releases enumerated as representing “the art of Ward Marston at its summit, and that is a substantial peak indeed.” Mermelstein goes on: “Though familiar only to connoisseurs, Hofmann was a pianist whose singular interpretations remain unsurpassed to this day. This set, part of a projected eight-disc series shared between Marston and the VAI label, includes Hofmann’s celebrated Casimir Hall recital of 1938, in which the pianist is at his most characteristic.” More information may be found at www.marstonrecords.com.

ART 101. Roman Haubenstock-Ramati. Graphic Music. Polish born commposer offers “whimsical scores inventively interpreted for flute, trombone, percussion and voice. See the Oct 99 issue of Classical Pulse for the article by Christopher Cox, in which he recommends this as one of 5 CDs to begin a graphic music master set.

SELENE CD-s 9808.44. Lipinski. Fantasia by Steffan. Fantasia and Variations by Bellini. Caprice for Violin Solo. Impromptu for Violin Solo. String Trio. Konstanty Andrzej Kulka, v., Aurelia Liwanowski, v. Andrzej Wrobel, vc. “When Paganini dubbed Karol Lipinski (1790-1861) the second greatest among violinists, he merely gave voice to an opinion held by many of his illustrious contemporaries (Schumann, for example, dedicated Carnaval to him.) Robert Maxham (Fanfare) goes on to say “afficianados of the virtuoso repertoire, sated with performances of Paganini, Wieaniwski, and Sarasate (and more recently, even of Vieuxtemps, Ernst, and Locatelli), can now experience the excitement his music must originally have generated….the compositions possess considerable musical substance….his style reflects a musical culture broader than that of the typical composing virtuoso…The most memorable music in the program, however, despite the immediate appeal of the two operatic fantasies, can be found in the Trio, which, like Paganini’s string quartets, surrounds its musical message with ample space for the first violinist to deploy his technical – and expressive -forces…Even listeners with an aversion to their works (virtuoso repertoire) must take notice of Selene’s compilation, a significant program well played – and highly recommended.”

KOCH SCHWANN 3-6550-2. Paderewski. Piano concerto. Fantaisie Polonaise. Ewa Kupiec, p. Hugh Wolf, cond. Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra. While Lawrence A. Johnson gives a high score to the Polish pianist in Fanfare, Steven Haller (ARG) compares Ms. Kupiec with almost a dozen recordings on CD and LP performed by such artists as Earl Wild, Barbara Hesse- Bukowska, Piotr Paleczny, Karol Radziwonowicz, Michael Bartos, Thomas Tirino, Regina Smendzianka and Felicja Blumenthal and declares that “in the Concerto Ms. Kupiec reigns supreme.” Citing the numerous recordings of these two works, he asks, “So, why don’t we ever hear them played in concert?”

CHANNEL CCS 12998. Lutosławski Cello Concerto. Elgar Cello Concerto. Pieter Wispelwey, vc; Netherlands RPO, Jac van Steen, cond.

BIS CD-937. Lutosławski Cello Concerto. Penderecki Cello Concerto no. 2. Torleif Thedeen, vc. Swedish RSO, Leif Segerstam, cond.
Although both recordings are “very good” (according to Bernard Jacobson in Fanfare), there is “no contest” between the two. His choice for winner is Channel’s disc. He continues to say that “Amazingly, Wispelwey seems to surpass not just Roman Jablonski (whose 1976 recording with the composer used to be available on a Polskie Nagrania CD) but even Rostropovich himself (who recorded it, also with the composer, a year earlier) in delineating the character quirks of the solo part. At any rate, he makes the whole strange concerto work as a music drama more successfully than anyone I have heard play it before.” Meanwhile, Allen Gimbel (American Record Guide) praises “the superb performances by the fine Swedish cellist Torleif Thedeen, who assumes the roles of his two very different protagonists with authority and compassion…Cellist will be happy to have both pieces in one place. Collectors who already own the Rostropovich and Penderecki recordings might not need this, but if they pass it up they’ll miss riveting performances in absolutely spectacular sound. Leif Segerstam and the Swedish Radio Symphony play with convincing involvement.”

MD+G 6030863. Wieniawski. Violin Pieces. Joanna Madroszkiewicz, v., Manfred Wagenr-Artzt, p. Joseph Magil (ARG) doesn’t think the soloist is up to being the “consummate virtuoso” which is “one of the requirements for playing Wieniawski.” She is “almost,” but “not quite… She has everything else…left hand remarkably quick…never heard another violinist play these works with greater enthusiasm…no one makes this music more exciting.”

ALBANY 331. Tributr to Sigurd Rascher. Music by Wirth, Husa, Still, Benson, Worley. Lawrence Gwozdz, Steffan Hass, sax., Bohuslaw Martinu Philharmonic, Kirk Trevor, cond. I mention this album because of saxophonist Lawrence Gwozdz, a Polish-American. Steven E. Ritter (ARG) describes the soloist as having “tremendous range of colors and effects in his sinstrument…One of the finest alto sax sounds since his mentor, the legendary Sigurd Rascher. His tone and technical ability complement each other perfectly, and his contemporary sponsorship of the Rascher way – luscious, chocolate sound, and immaculate technique – serves sax music well.” Others wrote: “Lawrence Gwozdz drew a standing ovation for his extraordinary performance.” (Musical America) “Gwozdz plays with subtlety, refinement, and control…beautifully expressive…formidable technique” (Classical Magazine).


Useful Trivia


Another place for ordering Polish music (classical, folk and pop) Cds by mail: EA Trading, 4966 La Ramada, Santa Barbara, CA 93111. 805-683-3713. E-mail: eatrade@gtw.net.

For those looking for the Bridal Dance Polka look up JRDA 29 by Jan Lewan and his orchestra.


Anniversaries


Born this month

  • 1 November 1901 – Szymon LAKS, composer, violinist (d. 1986)
  • 2 November 1876 – Eugeniusz MORAWSKI, composer, conductor (d. 1948)
  • 3 November 1915 – Henryk JABLONSKI, composer
  • 4 November 1857 – Stanisław NIEWIADOMSKI, composer (d. 1936)
  • 6 November 1860 – Ignacy Jan PADEREWSKI, pianist, composer, statesman (d. 1941)
  • 23 November 1933 – Krzysztof PENDERECKI, composer, conductor
  • 24 November 1932 – Andrzej KURYLEWICZ, composer, jazz pianist
  • 24 November 1899 – Jan MAKLAKIEWICZ, composer, teacher (d. 1954)
  • 26 November 1896 – Józef KOFFLER, composer (d. 1943/4?)
  • 27 November 1893 – Stanisław WIECHOWICZ, composer, choral conductor (d. 1963)
  • 28 November 1928 – Jan FOTEK, composer

 

Died this month

  • 1 November 1947 – Władysław POWIADOWSKI, choral conductor,teacher (b.1865)
  • 2 November 1929 – Stanisław BARCEWICZ, violinist, teacher (b.1858 )
  • 2 November 1881 – Jan Nepomucen BOBROWICZ, guitarist (b.1805)
  • 3 November 1888 – Józef BRZOZOWSKI, composer, cellist, conductor, teacher (b.1805)
  • 9 November 1856 – Aleksander MARTIN, composer, violist (b. 1856)
  • 11 November 1912 – Józef WIENIAWSKI, pianist, teacher, composer (b.1837)
  • 15 November 1853 – Józef NIEDZIELSKI, voice and violin teacher (b.1793)
  • 15 November 1986 – Aleksander TANSMAN, composer, conductor, pianist (b. 1897)
  • 14 November 1860 – Feliks NOSKOWSKI, pianist,teacher (b.1874)
  • 26 November 1855 – Adam MICKIEWICZ, romantic poet, composer (b.1798)