October 2001

Polish Music Center Newsletter Vol. 7, no. 10

News Flash

44th Warsaw Autumn Festival

The 44th Festival took place from the 21st to the 29th of September 2001. According to the Festival’s artistic director, Tadeusz Wielecki, “the main composer exposed this year is Galina Ustwolskaya. All of her symphonies will be presented: at the inaugural concert, the Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Yuri Simonov, will play the first symphony, for two solo voices and orchestra. The other four were performed by Jadwiga Rappé (mezzo-soprano) and the orchestra of the Silesian Philharmonic, conducted by Jacek Blaszczyk, at Ustwolskaya’s monographic concert on September 26th. As part of the Dutch Polder, the Nieuw Ensemble will perform with the group Loos from Amsterdam, and a new opera were premiered. The multimedia opera Tattooed Tongues by Martijn Padding with libretto by Friso Haverkamp was commissioned by the “Warsaw Autumn”, and is based on the work of Emmanuel Swedenborg.”

Wielecki stated that the opera was a part of a larger project: “next year, two further operas commissioned by the Festival will be premiered – one by Barbara Zawadzka (using texts by William Blake) and one by Osvaldas Balakauskas (based on poetry by Oscar Milosz). Together, these three operas constitute a kind of metaphysical triptych, entitled The Land of Ulro and inspired by the ideas of the Polish Nobel Prize laureate Czeslaw Milosz in his book of the same name, in which he describes the need for an unorthodox spirituality. An innovation of the program this year was Continuum – a kind of marathon where every composition was presented “autonomically” as it were – unrelated to the other works – differently than in a normal concert situation. There were two events of this type. In terms of Polish music, the most important event will certainly be the performance by the National Polish Radio Orchestra from Katowice, during which it presented new pieces by leading middle-aged composers: Pawel Szymanski, Elzbieta Sikora and Eugeniusz Knapik.”


Festival Of New Operas In Warsaw

Polish Chamber Opera in Warsaw, directed by Stefan Sutkowski, closes its celebration of the 400th anniversary of the emergence of the opera as a genre by taking stock of the form’s most recent development in Poland. The festival of Contemporary Polish Operas to be held this month in Warsaw, will feature world premieres of two operas, Baltazar by Zygmunt Krauze and a new work by Zbigniew Rudzinski. In addition, the ensemble will perform Quo Vadis? by Bernadetta Matuszczak. The three composers selected for this program belong to the same generation and have had ample experience with stage music. Matuszczak’s compositional debut was a stage piece “A Chamber Drama” and she continued to explore vocal-instrumental genres, including oratorio, in a series of compositions written in her personal style of “musical ascetism.” Krauze’s chamber opera “The Star” and Rudzinski’s chamber opera “The Mannequins” were both premiered at the Grand Theater – National Opera in Warsaw. Both new works have been commissioned for the performances by the Polish Chamber Opera which remains one of the leading creative forces in Polish musical life.

Paderewski In New York

A plaque honoring famed virtouso-pianist Ignacy Jan Paderewski (1860-1941) has been unveiled at the Buckingham Hotel on 57th Street in Manhattan for the second time. The plaque had been placed there in 1991 in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of Paderewski’s first recital in New York in 1891. According to the 7 August issue of Nowy Dziennik the event took place to commemorate Paderewski’s last concert in New York in 1939, which according to the New York Times was heard on the radio by more than fifty million Americans and people around the world. A special letter written for this occasion by mayor Rudolf Giuliani pays homage to the Polish composer, stressing his tremendous impact and input into the musical life of America and New York. Paderewski was instrumental in promoting the opening of Carnegie Hall in 1891. Buckingham Hotel was Paderewski’s official residence here in the U.S. during his final years.

Paderewski Tribute In NY: Reminder

If you are in New York in November be sure to attend the “Tribute to Paderewski” concert at Carnegie Hall sponsored by the Kosciuszko Foundation on November 4th at 2 p.m. The Sinfonia Varsovia conducted by Jerzy Maksymiuk and artists Janusz Olejniczak (piano) and Anna Bajor (soprano) will present an all-Polish program featuring the music of Paderewski, Chopin, Moniuszko, and Kilar. They are joined by the Paderewski Festival Singers, a New York choir especially formed for this occasion under the direction of Jan Sporek.

The program will include:

  • F. Chopin: Polonaise in A major
  • S. Moniuszko: Overture to “The Fairy Tale”
  • I. J. Paderewski: Nocturne
  • I. J. Paderewski: Polish Fantasy for Orchestra and Piano
  • W. Kilar: Orawa
  • Z. Bujarski Three Songs for Soprano and Orchestra
  • I. J. Paderewski: Three Songs for choir
  • S. Moniuszko: Mazur from the Opera “The Haunted Manor”

For further information call Tom Pniewski, Director of Cultural Affairs at the Kosciuszko Foundation (212) 734-2130, or visit the Kosciuszko Foundation web site: http://www.kosciuszkofoundation.org.

Other Polish Music In New York: 2001/02

Roman Markowicz, who writes for the Nowy Dziennik in New York , reports on the 2001-2002 concert scene in New york which begins with a “Rachmaninoff Revisited” series.

The Russian Philharmonic from St. Petersburg will perform in December and March in which they will fill their programs with only Russian works (Tchaikovsky, Shostakovich, Stravinsky). He continues to report that the Polish National Philharmonic under Kazimierz Kord which will appear in concert at the Avery Fisher Hall on 17 Feb will also play music by Russian composers (Tchaikovsky) along with Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 2 featuring pianist Janusz Olejniczak. He brings out the point that Russian orchestras have a very ethnic loyalty, unlike Polish orchestras, who have been criticized by American music critics for seemingly avoiding the music of their compatriots.

Lutoslawski’s Piano concerto is scheduled for Jan 10, 11, 12 and 15 with pianist Leif Ove Andsnes. There will be two premieres of Krzysztof Penderecki’s new works: 9 May, 2002 with pianist Emanuel Ax and the Philadelphia Orchestra under Wolfgang Sawallisch and 12 May Penderecki’s Sextet. In April Marta The American Record Guideerich will play a Chopin Concerto and Krystian Zimerman will appear at Carnegie Hall on 28 April.

Leonardo And The Splendor Of Poland

The Milwaukee Art Museum in Wisconsin is currently preparing an exhibition of art from the Polish collections for the 2002/3 season. The exhibition, entitled “Leonardo da Vinci and the Splendor of Poland” will be unveiled at the Milwaukee Art Museum in the Fall 2002.

The centerpiece of the exhibition is Leondardo’s Portrait of the Lady with the Ermine but the exhibition will be much larger than that – masterpieces by western European and Polish painters will be featured. The Milwaukee’s Symphony Orchestra will celebrate music by Polish composers through the 2002/03 season. The exhibition will travel from Milwaukee (12 September – 24 November 2002) to Houston (8 December – 16 February 2003), and San Francisco (8 March – 18 May 2003). It is a great undertaking and we congratulate the museum for this undertaking. Milwaukee Art Museum is located at 750 North Lincoln Memorial Drive. Milwaukee, Wisconsin USA 53202. tel 414-224-3200; fax: 414-271-7588.

Ukraina Viva! Festival in Wroclaw

For the first time Wroclaw is the site of a festival of Ukrainian culture, scheduled for 4-7 October 2001. The festival includes of concerts of classical repertoire (Lvov virtuosi), early music (Piccard Third, Ricercare) and folk music (romances performed by Olga and Natalia Pasiecznik), evenings of folk music and dance, films, exhibitions, lectures and addresses. The program also includes a meeting with the prizewinners of the Polish-Ukrainian Reconcilliation Prize given by Pope John Paul II in Lvov.

Sangare And Omsky In Los Angeles

The first black Polish actor, Omar Sangare, and cellist Jakub Omsky devote the first half of October to a series of performances of a program of Polish poetry and contemporary music for solo cello. The program, given in Santa Barbara (29 September), San Diego (7 October) and Los Angeles (14 October), consists of poems by Wislawa Szymborska recited in Polish and English by Sangare, with music interludes provided by Omsky.

Sangare is a graduate of the WArsaw Theater Academy, winner of grants to study at The British American Drama Academy in Oxford, UK and a fellowship from the Kosciuszko Foundation. He is currently a member of Studio Theater in Warsaw. He received an award “THe Best in Acting” from New York International Fringe Festival in 1997. He currently works on a project based on Shakespeare’s Othello, with Omsky who is one of the most interesting cellists of his generation, a composer and improviser, as well as performer of a repertoire ranging from the classical to contemporary.

Internet News

Lafolkarts Group on Yahoo!

If you go to the Yahoo! Groups site at http://groups.yahoo.com/invite/LAFolkArts?email=polmusic%40usc%2Eedu&iref=E03FkEsIXBBAuRFsCCneSBva5nE You might join the Los Angeles Folk Arts group sponsored by the Folk Arts Council. By joining LAFolkArts, you will be able to exchange messages with other group members. Yahoo! Groups also makes it easy to store photos and files, coordinate events and more.

LAFolkArts is an on-line network for the folk and traditional arts community of Greater Los Angeles. The purpose of LAFolkArts is to provide information of interest and a forum for discussion. Postings include performances, exhibits and events; funding opportunities; information on gatherings, conferences, workshops and mentorships; and discussion of artistic, social and political issues. LAFolkArts is sponsored by the Los Angeles County Arts Commission.

To learn more about the LAFolkArts group, please visit http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LAFolkArts To start sending messages to members of this group, simply send email to LAFolkArts@yahoogroups.com If you do not wish to belong to LAFolkArts, you may unsubscribe by sending an email to LAFolkArts-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com. To see and modify all of your groups, go to http://groups.yahoo.com/mygroups

For more information, contact:

Lisa Richardson, Moderator, LA
Folk & Traditional Arts Program Manager
Los Angeles County Arts Commission
500 W. Temple St., Rm. 374
Los Angeles, CA 90012
(213) 974-1343
(213) 625-1765 (fax)

Central Europe on Yahoo!

You are also invited to join a group for central Europe devoted to Central-European history, politics, and culture. Go to the Yahoo! Groups site at http://groups.yahoo.com/invite/central-europe?email=polmusic%40rcf%2Eusc%2Eedu&iref=sjKZNbeuBJppH65dxJ_OfHCuT4E By joining central-europe, you will be able to exchange messages with other group members. Yahoo! Groups also makes it easy to store photos and files, coordinate events and more. The NEW address of the list is central-europe@yahoogroups.com The website of the list: http://www.bezuprzedzen.pl/dyskusje/ce.shtml

Deutsche Grammophon Site

The German recording company, Deutsche Grammophon, publishes an online newsletter about its new releases and other activities. The site may be found at: http://www.deutschegrammophon.com/newsletter/2001-09-23.html

Festivals In Kalisz Online

Information about main concerts and festivals in Kalisz, Poland may be found on a private site www.artkalisz.pl, maintained by Inka M. Swiatek-Gal. Among other listings, the site includes information about:

  • International Festivals of Jazz Pianists in Kalisz www.artkalisz.pl/muzyka/pianoforte.htm
  • International Festivals, Chopin in the Colors of Autumn in Antonin (“Chopin w barwach jesieni”); www.artkalisz.pl/antonin/festiwale-chopinowskie.htm


Slask Wins In Italy

The Polish Folk Song & Dance Ensemble “Slask” won two top prizes at the World Music Festival in Filizzano, Italy. One for folk dances and one for modern dance for their choreography of Wojciech Kilar’s symphonic work, “Krzesany.” In addition to the dances of the mountaineer folk of southern Poland, they performed four of the five national dances of Poland: the Kujawiak, Oberek, Polonaise and Mazur.

New Publications & Books

Wightman’s Szymanowski Praised

Thanks to Walter Lasinski of New Jersey for sending me the review of Alistair Wightman’s book on Karol Szymanowski. Prof. William Smialek of Midway College, Texas wrote a favorable critique in the journal, Slavic Review. He wrote that “Wightman successfully traces a fabric of themes through the circumstances of Szymanowski’s life and the artistic objectives of his music….relating the events of Szymanowski’s life, Wightman is particularly adept at highlighting details that bear significance in understanding future turns of the composer’s career…not overlooked is the impact Szymanowski had on music education in Poland., the numerous musical examples are sometimes a challenge to align with the explication, and more frequent dependence on the formal charts he uses for some of the large-scale works would be beneficial. Nevertheless, this well-documented volume willl expand appreciation for Szymanowski’s music and artistic achievement.”

Calendar Of Events

OCT 3: Piotr Paleczny, piano. Weill Recital Hall. Sponsored by the Chopin Foundation Council of Greater New York. 718-486-6780.

OCT 6: “Krakusy” Folk Ensemble, dance performance. Backstreet Galleries. 11618 Exposition Blvd. West Los Angeles, 3 p.m. For more information about Krakusy see Dance part of our site.

OCT 6-15: 2nd Annual Polish Cultural Arts Festival. Backstreet Galleries, West Los Angeles and Warner Grand Theater, San Pedro. Concerts of popular music and jazz, folk dance performances, exhibitions and lectures. For more information contact the Polish Consulate in Los Angeles, or Backstreet Galleries, at www.BAckSTreeTGalleries.com, bkstregallery@att.net, tel. 310-479-6262.

OCT 7: Wojciech Kocyan’s lecture-recital “What makes the Polish music Polish.” Backstreet Galleries. 11618 Exposition Blvd. West Los Angeles, 3 p.m.

OCT 4,5,6,7: Chopin: Piano Conceto No. 1. Nelson Friere, p. Seattle SO, Gunther Herbig, cond. Benaroya Hall, Seattle, WA. www.seattlesymphony.org.

OCT 9: Gorecki: “Kleines Requiem fur eine Polka.” Thornton Contemporary Music Ensemble, Donald Crockett, cond. Alfred Newman Hall, USC. 8:00 p.m. Free. OCT 12,13,14: Chopin: Piano Concerto No. 1. Fabio Bidini, p. Colorado Symphony Orchestra. Boettcher Concert Hall, Denver, CO. 303-986-8742.

OCT 14: Jan Opalach, bass. Gait Sirguey, piano. 25th Anniversary Concert: Paderewski and Friends. Songs of Paderewski, Szymanowski, Karlowicz as well as French and American repertoire. Kosciuszko Foundation. 15 E. 65th St. 212-734-2130. $20. 3:00 p.m.

OCT 14: Music of Moniuszko, Penderecki, Mendelssohn & Gubanov. Honoring the 100th anniversary of the birth of the late Cardinal Wyszynski. Newton Symphony Orchestra, Jeffrey rink, cond. Cathedral of the Holy Cross, Boston, MA. 3:00 p.m.

OCT 14: An Afternoon with Poetry and Music. Polish Music Center’s Fall concert featuring Jakub Omsky, cello and Omar Sangare, actor, in a program of Polish poetry and music. United University Church, USC Campus, 817 W. 34th St., Los Angeles, 3 p.m.

: Polish Jazz with Grazyna Auguscik, jazz scat singer, and Darek Oleszkiewicz, bass. Backstreet Galleries. 11618 Exposition Blvd. West Los Angeles, 3 p.m.

OCT 21: Jacek Zganiacz, piano, Recital at the Polish Consulate, N.Y.

OCT 24: “The World of Impressionism.” Music of Szymanowski, Ravel, Sibelius & Griffes. Hilel Kagan, cond.

OCT 27: Paderewski Celebration, All Polish Program. Piotr Paleczny, piano; Magdalena Idzik, mezzo- soprano; David Enlow, organ. Celebrity Symphony Orchestra, Andrzej Rozbicki, cond. Music of Chopin, Moniuszko, Oginski, Kilar and Sir Edward Elgar’s “Polonia” Symphony. St. Paul’s Church, Toronto, Ontario, Canada. 7:00 p.m. 800-509-8911.

OCT 28: New York premiere of Antoni Szalowski’s work. Dorian Wind Quintet. Kosciuszko Foundation Chamber Series. 3:00 p.m.

Recent Performances

Lutoslawski’s Funeral Music

According to the symphony “In the News” online newsletter Lutoslawski’s music scheduled (for the weekend following the Twin Towers attack) by Christoph von Dohnanyi and the Cleveland Orchestra proved to be “`unusually relevant, both in painful and exhilarating ways.’ With Lutoslawski’s “Funeral Music,” Dohnanyi `brings to the score a keen grasp of the expressive gestures, from the opening sighs for two cellos through Lutoslawski’s compassionate anguished statements to the final cello whisper,’ and he adds, `the Cleveland strings couldn’t have been more controlled or eloquent.'”

Chopin In Los Angeles

The music of Chopin was heard in recitals given by Michael Sellers (First Presbyterian Church in Inglewood) and by Karine Poghosyan at the Beverly Hills Library Auditorium on 23 Sep.

Daniel Cariaga reviewed 19-year old Lang Lang’s performance of Chopin’s E-minor Piano concerto in the L.A. Times on 24 Sep. He describes the youthful pianist’s playing: “his limning of Chopin’s poetry deeply touching. His fingers are supple, his sense of style impeccable..and he possesses the fleetnes of Mercury. His soft passages ripple and his lightness of touch is matched by the steel in his fingers.”

Panufnik In Liverpool

The Royal Liverpool Philharmonic performed Andrzej Panufnik’s Third Symphony “Sinfonia Sacra” at the Philharmonic Hall in Liverpool, England under the direction of American conductor, Gerard Schwarz (14 Sep).


by Wanda Wilk

Gorecki’s Kantata

NIMBUS NI 15675. Gorecki: Kantata. Also music by Part and Rautavaara. Kevin Bowyer, organ.Reviewed in Gramophone Oct issue: “Another excellent survey of contemporary organ music performed by Kevin Bowyer… Gorecki’s dissonant, confrontational Kantata that seems to condense many of the compositional techniques of the late 1960s, from which it dates, into its 15-minute duration.”

Chopin By Du Pre And Barenboim

EMI Classics 7243 5 74203 2 7 Chopin: Cello Sonata and other works for cello. Jacqueline du Pre, cello; Daniel Barenboim, piano.John W. Lambert reviewed these two discs in Fanfare Sep/Oct issue by legendary cellist du Pre and recommends them “for those who do not yet know these renditions.”

Chopin By Pollini

EMI 67549 2. Chopin: Piano Concerto and other Chopin selections. Maurizio Pollini, piano. Philharmonia Orchestra. Paul Kletzki, cond.A reissue of the piano concerto recorded by Pollini in 1960 when he was 18 and just won the International Chopin Competition in Warsaw and a reissue of 2 Nocturnes recorded in 1970 “so we get to experience Pollini’s noble, controlled, expressive readings of those important pieces.” Michael Ullman continues, “Excellent performance…I have to imagine that every Chopin lover will want these performances.” [Fanfare Sep/Oct 2001]

More Chopin

EMI 5 67567-2 Chopin: Piano Sonata No. 3 and Liszt, Ravel, Brahms and Enesco. Dinu Lipatti, piano.According to Charles Timbrell (Fanfare Sep/Oct/2001) Lipatti’s “recording of the Chopin Sonata remains one of the greatest recordings ever made of it, simplicity, directness, and unforced virtuosity meld naturally and perfectly throughout the four movements, as they were said to do in Chopin’s own performances.”

Tansman’s Concerti And Commandments

Koch Schwann 3-6405-2 Tansman: Cello Concerto, Fantasy for cello & orchestra, the Ten Commandments. Sebastian Hess, vc., Radio-Philharmonie Hanover, Israel Yinon, cond. Paul Snook mentions that “another wonderful recent Tansman release for the same label, containing two irresistible and very characteristic pieces from the 1930s, the Fourth Symphony and the ballet “Bric-a-brac,” and the above disc should be bought, concluding “no collection of 20th century music can afford to be without either of these energizing discs.” (Fanfare Sep/Oct 2001).

Gorecki’s 2nd Symphony

NAXOS 8.555375 Gorecki: Beatus Vir, Symphony No. 2 “Copernican.” Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra (Katowice). Antoni Wit, cond. Zofia Kilanowicz, sop.; Andrzej Dobber, baritone.There are two reviews of this recording. Raymond Tuttle (Fanfare Sep/Oct) says, “It’s Want List Material for sure.” He compares it to two other recordings of the same works (one Hungarian; one Czech), but prefers these “Polish performances, by musicians who have proven their worth many times, over, seem definitive to me.” The Beatus Vir was dedicated to Pope John Paul II who was present at the premiere in Poland, where it “was a phenomenal success…there’s no reason why it shouldn’t remain so.” The Second Symphony was commissioned by the Kosciuszko Foundation of New York to celebrate the 500th anniversary of Copernicus’s death, opens with an onslaught that is unimaginable coming from the composer of the “Symphony of Sorrowful Songs…The first movement presents a deafening ‘mechanism of the world,’ as one commentator has described it. Gorecki seems to be depicting the horror of the Polish asronomer’s discovery that, in effect, what Western civilization had been told for centuries about the cosmos was wrong…the Second Symphony is an important work, and it ultimately needs to be appreciated on its own terms, not in the shadow of its successor.”

There is a difference of opinion in a second review. In the Sep/Oct issue of American Record Guide, critic Allen Gimbel is not as impressed with this CD. Although he believes that “Gorecki produces music of elevated beauty and memorable profundity. It’s a long haul to get there, but its worth the effort,” he is not enthusiastic about the performers “the soloists are undistinguished (the soprano less than), the choirs provincial and sonics boxy and devoid of the required resonance.”

Koprowski On Disc

CBC 5206. Peter Paul Koprowski: Concertos. Rivka Golani, viola, Robert Aiken, flute, Joseph Petric, accordion. Toronto Symphony, Jukka Pekka Sarasate.Jack Sullivan writes “Canadian composer who grew up in Poland is a post-modernist in the most precise sense…for anyone interested in contemporary symphonic music in the grand manner, this album is not to be missed.”

Modern Polish Trios

ACCORD 87. Modern Polish Trios. Panufnik (1914-91), Malawski 91904-57) and Twardowski (1930-). Cracovia Trio.”Each of these trios is beautiful, shapely, deeply expressive – and wonderfully brought to life by the Trio Cracovia’s superb performances and Accord’s gorgeous recorded sound. Don’t be put off by the unusual repertoire: this is a disc for those who love Faure’s Piano Quartets, Ravel’s Trio, and the Piano Quintets of Bloch and Piston, and are looking for further treasures of this exalted realm.” Mark L. Lehman (American Record Guide, Sep/Oct 2001).

Music For Two Violins

DUX 144. 20th Century Violin Duos. Music by Tansman, Gorecki, Spisak and Moss. Krzysztof Wegrzyn, violin; Tomasz Tomaszewski, violin.David Moore highly recommends them in The American Record Guide. “The two violinists are excellent; they play with conviction and manage to maintain interest through a demanding program replete with dissonance in folk style.”

More Music For Two Violins

BLACK BOX 1042. Amir & Marat Bisengaliev, violins. John Lenehan, piano. Music of Wieniawski, Bacewicz, Tchaikovsky, Vieuxtemps, Milstein, Paganini, Prokofieff, De Beriot, Brusilovski, Shostakovich.Amir is the 13-year old son of Marat. Joseph Magil reviews this father and son performance of 19th and 20th century virtuosic violin works. This recording is of importance to me because it includes a rare recording of Grazyna Bacewicz “delightful” Folk Dances for two violins and the youthful soloist gives a splendid rendition of Wieniawski’s Polonaise in D, which according to the critic is “exciting in spots, and Amir clearly has the right feel for this sort of exhibitionist music.” Magil concludes “I must say that Amir sounds like he has promise.”

Scharwenka By Jeanningros

CENTAUR 2500. Scharwenka: Piano Concertos 1 and 2. Laurence Jeanningros, piano. Czech Symphony, Paul Freeman, cond.Reviewed by Steven J. Haller in The American Record Guide. Collins Classics began a series of Scharwenka recordings in 1992, followed by another in 1997 with Seta Tanyel’s performance of Scharwenka’s First Piano Concerto. The review also informs that the soloist in this disc is female, despite her first name. Haller continues: “That the music itself is very much worth looking into was never in doubt. We described the First Concerto as `one of the glories of the late-romantic era, an exhilarating celebrationn of what the piano can really sound like when a skilled virtuoso-composer produces a brilliant vehicle aimed at nothing more (or less) than the pure enjoyment of soloist and audience.’ This is effusive, heart-on-sleeve keyboard writing of a type that seems embarrassing to composers today, many of whom apparently feel lush melody and lavish color must be avoided at all cost. Indeed, Liszt (who knew a thing or two about the keyboard) called the concerto `a remarkable addition to pianoforte music’ and gratefully acknowledged Scharwenka’s dedication to him, playing it to great acclaim in Berlin and in turn setting the stage for the composer’s own enthusiastically welcomed recitals in London.”

Chopin By Bass

AMERICUS 1015. Music of Bach, Chopin (Preludes, Scherzo & Nocturne), Scriabin and Pinkham. Jonathan Bass, piano.Alexander Morin calls it “an admirable debut disc.” “Young Jonathan Bass is more than just another of the mechanically perfect prize winners we hear so often these days; essentially romantic in approach, he combines a secure technique with considerable musical understanding and taste in this varied and demanding program.” (The American Record Guide).

Chopin By Neuhaus

RCD 16248. Chopin. Mazurkas, Barcarolle, Berceuse, Nocturnes, Polonaise-Fantasy, Rondo. Heinrich Neuhaus, piano.Alexander Morin also reviews this CD and identifies Neuhaus as “primarily remembered as a teacher (Richter and Tilels were among the students who revered him). Although ” Rubinstein has long set my standard for this music…at least, at this moment, just after listening to it, I’m tempted to say this is the most beautiful Chopin playing I’ve ever heard, unparalleled in its naturalness and spontaneity, its exquisitely nuanced rubato and colors, its combination of lyricism and strength.” He concludes, ” These recordings were made between 1946 and 1953 in good sound, and they shouldn’t be missed.”

Interview With Krzesimir Debski

by Joseph Herter

Note: Conductor and writer Joseph Herter interviews Poland’s most well-known ‘crossover musician’ Krzesimir Debski. Born in 1953, in Walbrzych, Silesia, and a graduate of the Paderewski Academy of Music in Poznan, Debski has won international recognition and prizes for performances as a jazz musician and as a composer of film and classical music. His pop songs are known by millions in his native Poland. This interview simultaneously appears in the current issue of Warsaw Voice magazine published in Poland.

JH: Not only are you a composer who divides his time among the jazz, pop, as well as the film and theatrical musical worlds, but you are a very prolific composer of contemporary classical music too. In fifteen years, you have written nearly sixty film scores as well as forty-six major works of classical music. Where do you find the time to do all that! Is there any genre which gives you the most satisfaction and enjoyment?KD: More than ninety percent of my time is spent writing contemporary ‘serious’ or classical music. However, the pop songs and film music that I write often overshadow the output of my real activity. The fact that I have composed a new symphonic work – which can take several months to write – is only interesting to several hundred people. On the other hand, a pop song that I can write in only ten minutes becomes known to millions.

JH: Do you feel any resentment or jealousy on the part of your colleagues on your ability to crossover so many musical styles and be so successful in each one?

KD:I don’t get that kind of feeling among most musicians. I feel respected among composers of film and pop music for the pieces I have written. Sometimes, though, there is a feeling of not being accepted among serious music composers in Poland – a feeling that I have overstepped my boundaries and intruded into their territory.

JH: Rumor has it that you are writing your opus magnus – an opera based on Sienkiewicz’s Quo vadis? Were you commissioned to write this opera and when and where can we expect to see this opera produced?

KD: That’s right – except that I have already completed the opera, which I wrote on my own incentive – without having had anyone commission it from me. You could say the work has been “self-sponsored.” The money I make from my film scores affords me the time to spend writing the kind of classical music that I myself want to write. It will be a while before the opera is actually produced because of the release of the new Polish film version of ‘Quo vadis?’ which came out this autumn. I think it would be wise to wait a year or two before thinking of staging it.

JH: You have American feathers in your cap as well: Downbeat Magazine naming you one of the top ten jazz violinists back in 1985 and then Canadian Film Academy nominating you for a Genie Award for your film The Young Magician. Have you performed in North America recently and do you have any American musical experiences that you could share with us?

KD: This past summer I took part in the Mark O’Conner Fiddle Conference at Nazarene University at Point Loma in San Diego, California, where I was on the faculty. It was an amazing experience to work with and listen to several hundred violinists who played is so many various styles – jazz, classical, country, folk, old timer – and who practiced and performed around the clock for an entire week.

JH: In addition to your opera Quo vadis?, what are some of your other most recent compositions?

KD: Most recently, in October, I had the premiere of my ‘Third Violin Concerto’, which was performed at the Henryk Wieniawski Competition in Poznan, by Daniel Stabrawa, a Pole who is the concertmaster of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra.

JH: Where can our readers listen to your music in Warsaw during November?

KD: Unfortunately, my ballet music (La dolce vita), which is performed at the Teatr Wielki, or my incidental music to Shakespeare’s ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ at Warsaw’s Teatr Polski won’t be playing during November. However, the first recording of my classical music will be released this month by the Koch International Records and will be available in Polish music shops as well. The recording will include my ‘Double Violin and Viola Concerto’ performed by violinist Tomasz Tomaszewski and violist Andrei Gridchuk – both of them are first chair players of the Deutches Oper in Berlin. Both play on instruments made by Stradivarius – Tomaszewski on the King George Stradivarius and Grydchuk on a Stradivarius that once belonged to Gustav Mahler. The other work on my classical CD will feature my ‘Flute Concerto’ played by the American flautist Katherine DeJongh. The orchestra on the recording is the Slupsk Chamber Orchestra under the direction of Bohdan Jarmolowicz. I should add that even though this is a provincial orchestra – they, nonetheless, received a nomination at last year’s Grammy Awards.


Born This Month

  • 3 October 1882 – Karol SZYMANOWSKI, composer, pianist, (d. 29 March 1937)
  • 3 October 1923 – Stanisław SKROWACZEWSKI, composer and conductor
  • 4 October 1910 – Eugenia UMIŃSKA, violinist
  • 9 October 1924 – Regina SMENDZIANKA, pianist
  • 10 October 1910 – Henryk SWOLKIEŃ, music critic, composer
  • 16 October 1867 – Ferdynand HOESICK, music critic, publisher (d. 13 April 1941)
  • 18 October 1879 – Grzegorz FITELBERG, conductor, violinist, composer (d. 10 June 1953)
  • 20 October 1819 – Karol MIKULI, pianist, composer, conductor, Chopin’s student (d. 21 May 1897)
  • 25 October 1868 – Michał ŚWIERZYŃSKI, composer, conductor (d. 30 June 1957)
  • 30 October 1904 – Alfred GRADSTEIN, composer, activist (d. 29 September 1954)


Died This Month

  • 1 October 1990 – Andrzej KRZANOWSKI (b. 1951, composer, accordion player)
  • 1 October 1861 – Tekla Justyna KRZYŻANOWSKA, pianist, Chopin’s mother (b. September 1780)
  • 7 October 1854 – Adolf CICHOWSKI, Chopin’s friend, officer and civil servant (b.1794)
  • 17 October 1849 – Fryderyk CHOPIN, composer and pianist (b. 1 March (also listed as February 22, 1810)
  • 17 October 1938 – Aleksander MICHAŁOWSKI, pianist, composer, Tausig’s student (b. 5 May 1851)
  • 18 October 1962 – Maria SZCZEPAŃSKA, musicologist (b. 13 May 1902)
  • 21 October 1837 – Michał Józef GUZIKOW, folk musician (b. 1806)
  • 27 October 1991 – Andrzej PANUFNIK, composer and conductor (b. 24 September 1914)
  • 30 October 1912 – Jan Karol GALL, composer and conductor (b. 18 August 1856)
  • 31 October 1952 – Adolf CHYBIŃSKI, musicologist (b. 29 April 1880)