Polish Music Reference Center Newsletter Vol. 6, no. 3
Wesołowski Wins Diapason d’Or
In January 2000, Michał Wesołowski, Polish pianist who lives in Sweden and specializes in the music of Chopin, Szymanowski and Maciejewski, has received the “Diapason d’Or” prize for his recording of Chopin’s Mazurkas, issued by Pianovox (PIA 522-2, 1999) and distributed by Sony Music. Previously, his recording of Szymanowski’s mazurkas received the same prize and was praised for the musical vision and the high quality of recording. Alain Cochard wrote about the humanist and modernistic aspects of the recording, that highlights the intimate quality of this music and its emotional appeal. Wesołowski emphasizes the cyclical organization of the mazurkas’ grouping into opus numbers – the miniatures are put together for a purpose. Listening to this version of Chopin, writes Cochard, brings us in contact with a “humility and intensity” of an interpretation that perfectly suits the music.
Honorary Oscar For Wajda
Polish film director Andrzej Wajda will receive an Honorary Oscar for the whole of his creativity from the Academy of Motion Pictures, Arts & Sciences on 26 March at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. Among his films you will find “Maids of Wilko” (Academy Award Nomination for Best Foreign Film, 1980) and “Promised Land” (Best Foreign Film, 1976). This award is a great success of Polish cinema and a recognition long overdue for a great artist of our times.
Wajda’s one “music-themed” film, called The Conductor, with Sir John Gielgud in the title role, unfortunately does not belong among his greatest artistic achievements, from Ash and Diament with Zbigniew Cybulski, through Solidarity-era Man of Iron. All of his films feature fascinating uses of “in-screen” music that is a part of the action. You can buy a CD with soundtracks to his films from www.polbook.com [ask for #1S049, $15.95 CD] or from the PTVN Polish Book Store in Brooklyn.
Polish Candidates For Chopin Competition
Five students from music schools in Poland have been selected to represent Poland in the next Chopin Int’l Piano Competition. From Polish academies of music: Piotr Machnik (Krakow); Joanna Marcinkowska (Poznań) and Daniel Wnukowski (Warsaw) and from the music Liceums: Małgorzata Sajna (Poznan) and Radosław Sobczak (Warsaw).
Polka Musican Database
The Polka Musician Database “has become the definitive listing of polka musicians on and off the internet. With an objective to document, archive and recognize the musicians that have given us polka music throughout the years, the Polka Musician Database has become a reference source for the present and the future. Now up to 600 names, this list is a good start but far from a good number.” To obtain a data entry form, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Schneider At Paderewski Festival
The featured soloist at this year’s Paderewski Festival in Paso Robles, CA, Michael Schneider, is not only a pianist, but a composer, and while in high school was named outstanding performer on piano, oboe and violin at the Texas State Solo and Ensemble UIL contest, performing solos on each instrument. He studied piano at the U. of N. Texas in Denton with Dr. Pamela Mia Paul, as well as coaching with Prof. Adam Wodnicki and studies with Madame Maria Curcio-Diamond in London.
He began his career at age eleven performing Mozart’s Piano Concerto in D minor with the San Angelo Symphony, and since then has performed the Rachmaninoff, Bach, Chopin and Liszt Piano Concertos in Illinois, Arkansas and Poland. The Festival takes place in the first week of March. See www.paderewskifestival.org for details and programming.
History Remembered: Norman Dello Joio In Poland
by Joseph Herter
On Friday, February 11, while I was at the Embassy’s Information Office, I was skimming through the Encyclopedia Americana in which I found an entry for Norman Dello Joio, the American composer whose arrangements of several Chopin songs we are performing during the Chopin/Washington birthday concert on February 22. The entry stated that Dello Joio performed in Poland in 1947 at the invitation of the Polish government.
Well, curiosity killed the cat. On Sunday, I called the 87-year-old composer at his East Hampton, New York home in hope that he would be able to recall that visit. I was lucky. Mr. Dello Joio was able to give me some very interesting information about his Polish experience. He clearly remembered his Polish trip which took place 53 years ago.
The tour came about from a performance he played of his Ricercare for piano and orchestra with the New York Philharmonic. After the performance, the Polish Ambassador to America (who had been in the audience) asked him if he would like to take a concert tour of Poland, performing the same piece with several Polish orchestras. Mr. Dello Joio agreed and arrived in Poland in deep winter for a month-long tour with the American conductor Franco Autori.
The composer could not remember all the Polish orchestras he played with, but he did remember performing with the Cracow Philharmonic in a freezing-cold hall and with the Polish Radio Orchestra in Katowice. Warsaw was still in ruins following World War II, so although he visited the capital, he did not perform there. The composer added that he spent some time in the Polish mountains and recalled being in Zakopane.
While in Poland, Dello Joio was given a set of the complete works of Chopin. The composer was surprised to find a volume of songs by the Polish master—something that he did not know that Chopin had written. In the early 50’s, Dello Joio set three of these songs for orchestra and chorus. No commission was involved with these settings. The composer was simply remembering with fondness his Polish experience—creating a kind of musical souvenir.
In ending our conversation, Mr. Dello Joio pointed out that the Polish Ambassador, who had invited him to Poland, eventually defected to the United States and that the conductor Mr. Autori returned to America with a Polish bride. And we all know, of course, that Dello Joio helped to introduce an unknown side of Chopin’s works to America’s choruses.
His Three Songs of Chopin include The Ring [Pierścień], The Lovers [Dwojaki koniec)], and The Wish [Życzenie]. The songs, freely transcribed for chorus and orchestra by Norman Dello Joio, are available from Edward B. Marks Music Co., in New York.
Finally, after researching this topic, I realized that Mr. Dello Joio unfortunately had his Polish ambassadors mixed up. Józef Winiewicz was the ambassador to the United States of America when the composer took his concert tour of Poland in 1947. Mr. Winiewicz, however, never defected. Dello Joio had in mind the Polish cultural attaché at the Polish Consulate in New YorkTadeusz Zygfryd Kassern (1904-1957), a composer who had studied with Henryk Opieński in Poznań in 1922-26. One of Opieński’s teacher’s had been Zygmunt Stojowski (1870-1946), the nestor of Polish composers in America when Kassern arrived.
Kassern served as a consul at the Polish Consulate from December 1945 to December 1948. In October 1947, he was also a Polish delegate for cultural affairs to the United Nations in San Francisco. Around November20, 1948, Kassern was called back to Warsaw. On December 2, he was nominated for the position of Consul General in London. A few days later, Kassern and his wife flew to New York on their diplomatic passports and sought political asylum. The remaining nine years of his life was spent in New York composing and teaching at the Third Street Music School, the Jaques-Dalcroze Institute and the New School for Social Research.
New Publications & Books
Szymanowski On Music
Martin Anderson, the publisher of Toccata Press in England, reminds us that his company has just released English translation of Szymanowski’s music writings. The volume, Szymanowski on Music, was partly supported with the grant from the Kościuszko Foundation in New York. For more information contact Toccatta Press at: “ToccataPress@email.msn.com”
“O” – Magazyn Kultury
A new periodical dedicated to cultural matters appeared in Poland (in Polish only). The “O – Culture Magazine” is available in print and online at “http://www.o.pl” The periodical includes articles about contemporary art in Poland and abroad; interviews with artists, current news from the domain of music, theatre, film, photography, architecture, literature and criticism. Each issue is created with personal assisatnce of one contemporary artist, the first one is dedicated to Jan Berdyszak. In addition, it includes a report from “Itinerarium” – an exhibit of music sketches by Krzysztof Penderecki. To order the print version visit: “http://www.o.pl/prenumerata/index.html” You may contact the publishers at:
Modulus Sp. z o.o.
Rynek Glowny 33
Poland “Muzyka21” From Warsaw
A new magazine Muzyka21 has been created by the Chopin Academy of Music in Warsaw. Everyone is welcome to the promotional concert of Polish music in Music Academy of Warsaw on March, 3 where the magazine will be presented. The program of the concert will include:
- Franciszek Lessel – St. Cecile cantata, Piano Concerto
- Karol Kurpiński – Clarinet Concerto, Overture “Zamek na Czorsztynie”The concert will be recorded and available on a CD at a later date. For more information contact Jan A. Jarnicki at “email@example.com”
“The Strad” On Szymanowski
Tyrone Greive, past winner of the Wilk Prize for his work on the collaboration between Szymanowski and Kochański (article published in Polish Music Journal, vol. 1 no. 1 (1998), has prepared a new article about Kochański for The Strad (December 1999). The article serves to inform greater number of violinists (and other string players) about Szymanowski’s music and its relative importance as well as to encourage more to perform it and listen to it.
Polish Composers Of The 20th Century
Prof. Marek Podhajski, based in Iceland, is currently working on a dictionary of Polish composers (1918-2000). There entries for this book will be prepared by editors responsible for particular regions, centered in Gdansk, Katowice, Kraków, Łódź, Poznań, Warsaw and Wrocław. The database now includes almost 800 names and only 70 entries have been completed. Readers interested in either submitting their biographies for consideration or in preparing entries for this dictionary should contact the editor, Marek Podhajski at: “firstname.lastname@example.org”
Wilk Prizes For Research In Polish Music
After Prof. James Parakilas and Dr. Sandra P. Rosenblum won their 1999 Wilk Prizes, the PMRC board set to work to change the rules of the competition and create a new category for a “best book on Polish music” which will alternate with the current competition for research papers.
The Stefan & Wanda Wilk Prizes for Research in Polish Music are sponsored by the Polish Music Reference Center (PMRC) and the Thornton School of Music of the University of Southern California. They are intended to stimulate research on Polish music in academic circles outside of Poland. The prizes are awarded in two independent competitions, each held biannually (in different years): Wilk Prizes for Research Papers on Polish Music (yearly till 1999, since then held in odd years) and Wilk Prizes for Books on Polish Music (even years, starting in 2000). The prizes are awarded to authors of the best scholarly publications reflecting original research on some aspect of the music of Poland, preferably on a less researched topic or composer.
The Wilk Prizes for Research Papers competition is divided into two categories, Student Prize and Professional Prize. The winning essay by an author who is a student will receive a prize of $500. Professionals will compete for a prize of $1,000. Both competitions are open to all authors outside of Poland. The submission deadline for the next edition of this competition is changed to 30 June 2001.
Entries for the newly created Wilk Prizes for Books on Polish Music may be submitted to the jury by the author, publisher or a third party. The 2000 competition will be open to works published outside of Poland in English, French, and German during the past 5 years. Subsequent edition of the competition will encourage submissions of books published during the past 3 years. The cash prize will be $2,000.
Deadline: The competition takes place bi-annually for Research Papers (in 1999, 2001, 2003 and so forth) and for Books on Polish Music (in 2000, 2002, etc.). All entries should be received on or before June 30th of the year in which the competition is held. The winners will be announced by the end of the year. For more information contact the PMRC at email@example.com.
Sembrich Vocal Competition
Deadline for the Sembrich Vocal Competition sponsored by the American Council for Polish Culture (ACPC) is April 30th. It is open to contestants, male or female, up to age 32, who are U.S. citizens of Polish descent. Contact: Prof. Marian Krajewska, Conservatory of Music, St. Mary-of-the-Woods College, St. Mary-of-the-Woods, IN 47876. 812-535-5393; 812- 332-1322.
Fifth Tansman Competition
The 5th Tansman International Competition of Musical Personalities will be held November 5-11th this year in Łódź, Poland. Grand Prix: $12,000. For information and winners of previous competitions see the competition web-site: www.tansman.lodz.pl/index.html.
Special Prize For Zimerman
Krystian Zimerman, who organized a Polish Festival Orchestra to tour the world and perform Chopin’s Piano Concerti the Polish way, received a Special Award of the Chopin Year from the Foundation of Culture. The award was financially supported by funds from the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage. The ceremony took place in January 2000 at the Royal Castle in Warsaw. Zimerman gave the funds of 40,000 Polish zl. to a charity organization for children.
Pasternak In Citta Di Pescara
The third edition of the Premio Citta di Pescara, organized by the Kamerton group in Italy, was devoted to piano and chamber music. The jury included Piotr Lachert, Stefan Darra, Silvio Feliciani and Yoichi Togawa. Four prizes were awarded inlcuding a third prize to Polish composer, Klaudia Pasternak, for Cogitations. Interestingly, Pasternak still studies in Music High School (named after J. Elsner) in Warsaw, with Sławomir Czarnecki. The competition winner, Detlef Muller-Hanxleden from Germany is a student of Krzysztof Meyer in Cologne.
Jazz Forum Awards For 1999
The periodical Jazz Forum presented its Top Jazz awards for 1999 with Tomasz Stanko selected as the best musician and his album “From the Green Hill” picked as the Record of the Year. Other prizes were awarded to the Electronic Ensemble Walk Away; pianist Leszek Mozdzer; Jan Wroblewski for his arranging and baritone saxophone playing and Zbigniew Namysłowski as composer and oboist. The 1999 Event of the Year: Jazz Jamboree.
Wronski Violin Competition
The winner of the II International Tadeusz Wronski Violin Competition was Aliona Bajewa of Russia. 29 violinists from 7 countries, ages 15-27, competed in performances of the music of Bach, Bartók, Paganini, Penderecki, Telemann and Ysaye. Other winners: Aude-Perin Dureau (France); Grzegorz Szydło and Bartosz Cajler (Poland) and Marianna Terterian (Russia).
Women Composers Online
Polish musicologist based in Germany, Dr. Danuta Gwizdalanka, has created a Polish site devoted to women composers. The site contains links to earlier composers now – as it is being prepared in chronological order. The address: “www.kobiety.pl/kmuzyce1.htm” (note that the address includes number 1 “one” and not an “L”). If you do not speak Polish, you may read about Polish women composers in two English-language essays on the topic found in the Essays section of our site – one by Wanda Wilk and one by Maria Anna Harley.
New Sites For Kaczmarek And Lachert
Jan A.P. Kaczmarek, Polish composer of film music, located in Los Angeles and frequently collaborating with filk-maker Agnieszka Holland, now has a web site maintained by Dariusz Janczewski. The site may be found at: “www.jan_a_p_kaczmarek.com” or at “www.kaczmarek.org”
Piotr Lachert, whose name appeared above as a jury member in a composition competition, is a talented Polish composer active in Italy. His web site may be found at: “http://www.kamerton.com/ospiti/compositori/lachert.htm”
New Antiquarian Music Website
Wurlitzer-Bruck, dealers in all antiquarian and/or rare music material – books, printed and manuscript music, facsimiles, prints and engravings, autographs, instruments, objets d’art and ephemera — are pleased to announce the inauguration of their website, , and their new e-mail address, Music@WurlitzerBruck.com.While we have not checked for the Polish content of this site, it would be prudent, when researching a topic or composer, to visit the Wurlitzer-Bruck site and search for books, concert programs, editions, photographs, and other unique items. We are warned that the site is filled with graphics and slow to load on a regular modem.
A Second Look At An English Rare Books Site
In December we have published a news item about a bookstore “Eastern Books” of London. The website is located at: www.easternbooks.com. According to some visitors, the books are priced at the upper end of the market and a bit of shopping around might result in finding some volumes at lower prices. The lowest price is 65 pounds; Gieystor’s History of Poland (PWN, 1979) costs 150 pounds, i.e. approx. $244!, Ascherson’s The Struggles for Poland (London, 1987) is listed at 85 pounds, i.e. approx. $138!
Music Priting Service In New York
Woytek Rynczak has a company dealing with music copying, layout and publishing music books. The company, active for the last 25 years (in New York with a division in Warsaw) cooperates with American and European music publishers; it has prepared thousands of music prints for publication. The company has a website at “www.wrmusicservice.com.” Mr. Rynczak continues a family tradition, since his father was the owner of the music publisher “Fletnia” in Warsaw before World War II, and after the war continued to work as music engraver for PWM and other companies. For more information:
W.R. Music Service
49 Cutter Place
West Babylon, NY 11704
phone: 516 422-5370
fax: 516 661-8932
Music123.com – For Music Students
MUSIC123.COM bills itself as the leading online instrument and accessory dealer for music educators and their students. Their new “School Music Program” was created to make instruments, accessories, rentals and sheet music (coming soon) more affordable and less risky than ever for students to purchase while earning points for the school (5% will be credited to the school account). For more information contact “www.music123.com” or e-mail “firstname.lastname@example.org.”
Anderszewski in the U.S.
Polish pianist Piotr Anderszewski [“a pianist of inspirational brilliance (Andrew Clements, The Guardian)]” was one of “six of the most mesmerizing and individual pianists emerging in this generation” who appeared in the 3rd Annual Miami Festival of Discovery which featured Young Keyboard Masters at the Lincoln Theatre in Miami Beach, FL February 22-27.
Szmytka In Philadelphia
Polish soprano Elzbieta Szmytka was soloist with the Philadelphia Symphony Orchestra in the Third Symphony by Henryk Mikołaj Górecki at Carnegie Hall on Feb 8th. Wolfgang Sawallisch was the conductor.
Roman Markowicz of Nowy Dziennik (a Polish-American daily in New York) interviewed her and found her to be unusually modest. The artist left Poland in 1981 to study in Holland and has settled in Brussels. She sings primarily operatic roles and her many recordings include Simon Rattle’s recent release of Szymanowski’s opera, “King Roger,” Mozart’s “Abduction of the Seraglio” under Bruno Weil for Sony Classical; “Cosi fan tutte” for EMI with Neville Mariner; “Merry Wives of Windsor” with Welzel-Most. She was also soloist in Rattle’s rendition of Szymanowski’s “Stabat Mater” and her newest release is of Chopin songs for DG with pianist Malcolm Martineau.
Mutter Plays Lutosławski
Roman Markowicz also presented a full page review (in Polish in the same newspaper a week earlier) of Sophie Mutter’s two week residency with the New York Philharmonic in which she presented music written in the past century only. She performed Lutosławski’s “Partita” and “Chain 2,” and Penderecki’s Violin Concerto No. 2. The latter two were expressly composed for Ms. Mutter.
Zakrzewska At Lincoln Center
Pianist Berenika Zakrzewska, who is presently a student at the Juilliard School of Music, presented a piano recital at the Paul Recital Hall in the Lincoln Center Plaza on Feb 19th with music of Bach, Beethoven, Chopin & Prokofiev.
Chopin In California
An All-Chopin recital featured Gabriela Montero (Bronze Medalist of the 1995 Internationall Chopin Piano Competition in Warsaw) in a program sponsored by the Chopin Council of San Francisco and the Old First Concerts. Ms. Montero also held a master class. (www.oldfirstconcerts.org)
Locally in Los Angeles and its environs, pianists Byron Janis, Yuri Siesarev, and Julian Musafia included Chopin in their programs. James Wilson, cello and Joanne King, piano, did likewise at Caltech (California Institute of Technology, Pasadena).
Kaban And Blazej In Los Angeles
Two Polish artists from Tarnow, pianist Teresa Kaban and flutist Henryk Blazej, presented two interesting programs which included Polish composers Chopin, Dobrzanski, Lutosławski and Wieniawski in music for flute and piano.
The recital at Bing Auditorium of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art on Sunday, 20 Feb, was broadcast live. The husband and wife team performance of the duo music was exceptionally well-coordinated and blended. Since 1994 they have served as directors of the International Festival of Rediscovered and Forgotten Music which they founded in Tarnów, Poland.
Wiłkomirski Celebration In Kalisz
The Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra of Kalisz celebrated the 100th birthday anniversary of the late Polish cellist, teacher, composer and conductor Kazimierz Wiłkomirski (1895- 1995). Katarzyna Drzewiecka was the featured soloist. The celebrant was the dean of the Łódź Higher School of Music, which he founded and also director, conductor and artistic director of Opera and Philharmonic Orchestras in Wrocław and Gdańsk.
Skrowaczewski In Warsaw
Polish-American conductor Stanislaw Skrowaczewski directed two concerts in Warsaw featuring the young cellist, Rafal Kwiatkowski as soloist.
Child Prodigy Plays Chopin
12-year old Staś Drzewiecki performed Chopin’s Concerto in E minor with the Artur Malawski Philharmonic of the city of Rzeszow. The youthful pianist began his concert career at age four. A year later he performed at the Moscow Conservatory of Music and as a 6-year old travelled with Sinfonia Varsovia to Japan.
Calendar Of Events
MAR 3-5: Paderewski Festival sponsored by the Paso Robles Foundation for Culture and the Arts. Pianists Michael Schneider and Lorenzo Sanchez. Lowiczanie Dancers from San Francisco and a Piano competition for young pianists from North San Luis Obispo County.
MAR 4: WQXR Broadcast of the February 27th concert at the Kosciuszko Foundation. The New Century Saxophone Quartet performing the music of Chopin, Zebrowski, Bach, Piazzolla and others.
MAR 4-12: The 6th American National Chopin Piano Competition. Final Rounds: Part I. Mar 11, 8:00 p.m. Part II. Mar 12, 3:00 p.m. Gussman Center for the Performing Arts, Miami, FL. www.chopin.org
MAR 5: Music of Chopin & Brahms. Roza Kostrzewska-Yoder, piano; Marek Szpakiewicz, cello. 6824 Glacier Dr. Riverside, CA. 2:00 p.m. $15 or $25 couple, 909-278-9700.
MAR 10: Szymanowski’s Stabat Mater. Łódź Philharmonic, Poland, 7 p.m. With Elzbieta Towarnicka, soprano, Urszula Kryger, alto, Jerzy Mechlinski, baritone, Choir and Orchestra of the Łódź Philharmonic, Chikara Imamura, cond.
MAR 12: Romantic Polish Piano Music. Paderewski, Brzezinski, Szymanowski & Chopin. Camille Budarz, piano. Ethical Society, Phila. 2:30 p.m. $20. 215-592-3380. Sponsored by the Heritage Society of Philadelphia.
MAR 13: All-Rossini Operatic Concert. Ewa Podles, mezzo- soprano. San Francisco Opera House. 8:00 p.m. $20-40, Presented by the Four Seasons Concerts, Inc. 510-451-0775.
MAR 16: Penderecki. “Seven Gates of Jerusalem.” The Chicago Symphony conducted by the composer with soloists Rappe, Harasimowicz-Haas, Klosinska, Silvesti, Tesarowicz and the Chicago Symphony Chorus dir. by Duain Wolfe.
MAR 19: Music of Haydn, Beethoven and Szymanowski. The Avalon String Quartet. Kosciuszko Foundation Chamber Music Series. 3:00 p.m. WQXR Radio Broadcast, Sat. 25 Mar @ 9:00 p.m. www.kosciuszkofoundation.org
MAR 30, 31: Szymanowski, Violin Concerto No. 1. Los Angeles Philharmonic, Zubin Mehta, cond., Alexandre Treger, violin. Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, 8 p.m.
Tansman – Guitar Works
Stradivarius STR 33534. Tansman. Guitar Works. Frederic Zigante, Royal Ballet Sinfonia, Andrew Penny.
“An essential for lovers of the guitar; music by a master composer whose language has much appeal and a strongly individual voice.” Most of the music selected was dedicated to the great Andre Segovia, who had requested that the composer “wipe his pen clean of overt modernity in his works for the guitar.” (John Duarte, Gramophone, February 2000)
Violin Duos – Moszkowski, Wieniawski
BIS CD 1016. Violin Duos. Moszkowski Suite; Wieniawski 8 Etude-Caprices, op. 18. Alard Duo. Ilya Gringolts and Alexander Bulov, violins, Irina Ryumina, piano.
“The youthful St. Petersburg duo – combined ages 33 – perform these pieces with exceptional panache and virtuosity, sharing the difficult first violin parts.” The pianist’s “excellent contribution to the Moszkowski Suite is more than accompaniment; the three instruments have roles of equal importance, and at the climax of the finale it’s the piano that leads with a passage in the grand manner…all in all, a most enjoyable disc.” (Duncan Druce, Gramophone, February 2000).
Tandem Records TDM 99092. Chopin. Arrangements for Piano and String Quintet. Karol Radziwonowicz, piano. Solisti di Varsovia.
“Chopin in miniature: chamber arrangements of the concertante works and alternative versions of some piano works.” Bryce Morrison praises Karol Radziwonowicz’s playing and “In the La ci darem la mano” Variations he captures the show-stopping bravura which first prompted Schumann’s exclamation, `Hats off, gentlemen, a genius,’ and his playing flashes fire in the final cascades of the Introduction and Polonaise (transcribed here for solo piano by Czerny)[…] All Chopin lovers will need to hear this and argue into the small hours whether such arrangements are valid or misplaced, the fruits of wisdom or jealousy.” (Bryce Morrison, Gramophone, February 2000)
Songs By Chopin And Viardot
Hyperion CDA 67125. Chopin. 19 Songs, Op. 74. Viardot (after Chopin) 5 songs. Urszula Kryger, mezzo; Charles Spencer, piano. Polish texts and translations.
“A rare opportunity to sample Chopin the song composer, here performed with real feeling…The Lodz-born mezzo shapes them (the Chopin songs) lovingly into two groups: the love songs and the patriotic laments. The dark core of melancholy in Kryger’s voice is fine-tuned to the Slavic melodic contours of a song like “The Sad Stream.” And her instinctive grasp of both musical and verbal inflection makes for a beautifully understated performance of Melodya, Chopin’s last, heartfelt song of exile […] Chopin’s own Mazurkas were rifled by his friend, the Spanish singer Puline Viardot, who commissioned a minor French poet to write lyrics to a handful of them. She, in turn, ornamented them liberally, and the result was a set of beguiling, unashamedly sentimental salon pices, five of which are sampled here.” (Hilary Finch, Gramophone, February 2000)
Note: I was fortunate to sit on the jury of the first Moniuszko International Vocal Competition which Urszula Kryger won and remember how impressed and enamored of her voice I was at the time. (WW).
KOCH SCHWANN 1735. Paderewski. Manru Suite, Minuet, Melodies (2), Cracovienne Fantastique, Chant d’Amour. Cracow Philharmonic, Roland Bader, cond.
Steven J. Haller writes, “Yet lo and behold, here’s a brand new disc from Koch-Schwann offering even more rarified fare, including a healthy selection from Paderewski’s only opera Manru combined with several arrangements of his piano works. In fact, there’s even more out there to e recorded, including an unpublished cantata and an unfinished violin concerto- who knows what the new year will bring?”
Last year Koch Schwann released the Piano concerto and Fantaisie Polonaise and before that the Polonia Symphony. You can also find recordings of the complete piano works by Adam Wodnicki, Waldemar Malicki, as well as piano pieces by Ewa Kupiec and the master pianist, himself (on the Philips Piano Masterpieces).
Mr. Haller continues, “Certainly the Overture to “Manru” is a feast by itself, beginning in somber mood with rich writing for the lower strings (with horn soaring overhead) and continuing on in dour fashion with the violins playing their hearts out […] Roland Bader draws full-blooded playing from the Cracow musicians.” Haller’s only regret is that not even one aria from the opera was thrown in, for an otherwise “choice” recording. (American Record Guide, Jan/Feb 2000)
Szymanowski’s King Roger
EMI 56823 (2 CD). Szymanowski. “King Roger,” Sinfonia Concertante. Thomas Hampson (King Roger), Elzbieta Szmytka (Roxana), Philip Langridge (Edrisi), Ryszard Minkiewicz (Shepherd); Leif Ove Andsnes, piano. Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Simon Rattle.
Another review recommending this disc. Carl Bauman praises Sir Rattle for his superb command of Szymanowski’s music and especially liked the performances of Hampson as the King and tells us that we “will be smitten in Szmytka’s voice” as she sings Roxana’s aria in Act II. He continues, “We desperately need a new recording of the First Symphony. Dare we hope that Sir Simon will supply recordings of the first two symphonies now that he has done the other two?”
He also liked Andsnes performance in the piano concertante, especially his “youthful athleticism and the bright sonic textures that remind me of Prokofieff and Bartok. This music has an overlay of folk-inspired writing, too, which is quite appealing, even if it is in sharp contrast to the softer textures of the opera. The competition is not great here, for this performance has so much more pizzazz and such superior sound that it pretty well eliminates all others.” (American Record Guide, Jan/Feb 2000).
Forte Plays Chopin
Madeleine Forte, wife of Allen Forte, Battell Professor of the Theory of Music at Yale University released a new all-Chopin disc that includes Polonaise-Fantasie, Sonata in B minor, and Four Scherzi. The CD, titled, “Frederic Chopin” is available from the Connoisseur Society (Fax: 1-212-787-9747; Tel: 1-800-240-3849). Ms. Forte is a graduate of the Chopin Academy of Music in Warsaw and of the Juilliard School. She is a recording pianist for the Connosseur Society, which has issued her CD of music by Maurice Ravel and is preparing an issue of a Claude Debussy collection. Forte is a member of the American Liszt Society; she travelled on concert tours in Europe, South America and gave performances in Canada and the U.S.
Jan Jakub Bokun On CD
In the February 2000 issue of this Newsletter we have published a short interview with Jan Jakub Bokun, who spend a large part of 1999 with Zimerman’s Polish Festival Orchestra. Here, the interview topic shifts to Bokun’s own recordings:
MAH: What are your own highlights as a recording artist? I know that you issued 2 CDs recently, could you talk a bit more about it?
JJB: I must say that my first recording project was quite ambitious. Together with the wonderful pianist Katarzyna Chizniakowa we wanted to present a CD with stylistically varied 20th century pieces written for clarinet and piano. I was very happy that Koch Classics did not object! Apart from a few standard clarinet pieces (Bernstein’s Sonata or Rabaud’s Solo de Concours) the album includes some world premiere recordings of rarely performed or new works like “From the Shadow to the Light” by Gergely Vajda, “Wind from the Sea” by Jacek Grudzień and “Two Caprices for clarinet and piano”, by one of the most outstanding but now unjusty forgotten Polish composers-Tadeusz Baird. With this album I hope to promote the popularity of a valuable and stylistycally diversified repertoire, including works yet undiscovered and others which already sunk into oblivion.
MAH: What about the second album?
JJB: My second CD will probably find a much bigger audience. Together with Krzysztof Pelech, the most famous Polish guitar player we recorded over an hour of Lati-American music, including, among others, the famous “Histoire du Tango” by Astor Piazzolla in our own transcription for clarinet and guitar. The Polish DUX label is known for innovative programs and they obviously liked the idea of Duo Guitarinet paying hommage to Astor Piazzolla. Pelech and I are very keen about Latin-American music and we had a great time during rehearsals and the recording session, which took place in the Polish Radio Hall in Wrocław in July 1999.
MAH: Hopefully these recordings will soon be available in the U.S. DUX has a good distribution system in Poland and its expansion into other market, especially in America would be most welcome. Thank you for this information – now we have something to look for.
For more information about Mr. Bokun and his recordings visit his web site: www.jmc.com.pl/jjbokun.
Sterczynski – Pianist From Warsaw
In our news item about new Lessel-Chopin recording by Jerzy Steczynski being reviewed in the Fanfare magazine, we regretted the fact that there was no information about the identity of this pianist. Thanks to the efforts of invincible Joseph Herter, we now are pleased to report that Prof. Sterczynski is on the piano faculty of the Chopin Academy of Music in Warsaw and that he is Assistant Dean of the piano performance department. For more information contact the Academy at: “email@example.com”
Born This Month
- 1 March 1810 – Fryderyk Chopin, virtuoso pianist, Poland’s greatest composer
- 3 March 1922 – Kazimierz Serocki, composer, co-founder of Warsaw Autumn Festival (d. 1981)
- 6 March 1975 – Karol Kurpiński, composer, father of national opera
- 7 March 1911 – Stefan Kisielewski, composer, essayist, writer (d. 1991)
- 10 March 1937 – Bernadetta Matuszczak, composer
- 12 March 1928 – Jerzy Semkow, conductor, director of National Opera in Warsaw
- 12 March 1916 – Władysław Skierkowski (d. 1941 in Nazi camp), music ethnographer and priest
- 17 March 1901 – Piotr Perkowski, composer
- 18 March 1961 – Hanna Kulenty, composer
- 21 March 1936 – Marek Stachowski, composer
- 28 March 1954 – Paweł Szymański, composer
Died This Month
- 19 March 1887 – Józef Ignacy Kraszewski (b. 1812), writer, music historian and collector, also music critic and composer
- 21 March 1973 – Antoni Szałowski (b. 1907), composer, settled in Paris in 1931, wrote in neo-classical style
- 23 March 1589 – Marcin Kromer (b. 1512), musician, historian, politician, author of music theory treatises
- 24 March 1900 – Stanisław Ciechomski (b. 1853), music critic, co-founer of choir “Lutnia” and Warsaw Music Society
- 28 March 1927 – Karol Prohaska (b.1869), conductor and composer, influenced by Brahms
- 29 March 1937 – Karol Szymanowski (b. 1881), composer, pianist, “the father of Polish 20th-century music”
- 31 March 1880 – Henryk Wieniawski (b. 1835), composer, virtuoso violinist
Czeslaw Prejsnar, concertmaster of the opera orchestra i Oslo, Norway, reminds us that our list of death anniversaries for February did not include the date for Witold Lutosławski, who died on 7 February 1994. It is not because of disrespect, but by ommission that his name did not appear in our Newsletter. Wanda and Stefan Wilk hosted Mr. and Mrs. Lutosławski during their Los Angeles visits, including their last travel in 1993, recorded on video by film-maker Paweł Kuczyński (on the Wilks’ commission). In addition to documenting the various public events, speeches, etc. the documentary shows the mutual devotion of Witold and Danuta in a particularly poignant moment of an afternoon-book-reading in the garden. Maria Anna Harley helped organize Lutosławski honorary doctorate ceremonies at McGill University in Montreal (1993) and wrote two research papers on his music, for the book of Lutosławski Studies, edited by Zbigniew Skowron for Oxford University Press and Musica Iagellonica (two versions, in English and Polish), and for the Perspectives of New Music. Lutosławski is one of the PMRC’s most important benefactors: he donated five of his original manuscripts, including such treasures as Mi-Parti and Paroles tissees to our manuscript collection.