Polish Music Center Newsletter Vol. 16, no. 8
An original film score composed by PMC Director Marek Zebrowski is featured in the new documentary film, The Labyrinth, created by Director/Producer/Writer Jason A. Schmidt and Writer/Producer, Ron Schmidt, S.J. The Labyrinth will premiere on August 13th, 2010 at 7:55 pm at the Arclight Cinema-Hollywood. There will be further screenings of the film throughout the week of Aug. 13-19 as a part of Docuweeks.
The Labyrinth is an immersion into the artwork and testimony of Auschwitz survivor, Marian Kołodziej, a Polish Catholic who was sent to the camp on the first day it opened. This is a moving film about resilience and hope in the midst of unbelievable suffering. This unique documentary focuses on Mr. Kołodziej’s extensive graphic pen and ink drawings and testimony about his experiences in the death camp. After liberation, Mr. Kołodziej went on to become a noted set and costume designer in theater and film.
Filmed on location at the St. Maximilian Kolbe Franciscan Center near Auschwitz, Poland, the film features Roman Czarny as the voice of Marian Kołodziej.
For tickets and information, please visit: www.newamericanvision.com. The filmmakers will be on hand after each screening for Q&A sessions.
Warszawska Jesień 2010
The 53rd edition of the International Festival of Contemporary Music ‘Warsaw Autumn’ [Warszawska Jesień], one of the most highly regarded and longest running festivals of its kind in the world, will take place in Warsaw between September 17-25, 2010. The main topic of this year’s Festival is the keyboard in its broad sense, featuring a number of works for various keyboard instruments, ‘keyboards’ of percussion instruments, as well as computer keyboards. Among them, works for nontraditional keyboards, with cross-tuning, prepared sounds, electronics, installations, and conceptual works. With this ‘keyboard’ topic, Warsaw Autumn symbolically adheres to the 200th anniversary of Fryderyk Chopin and the ongoing Chopin Year, and the spectacular multimedia installations related on the subject of Chopin that will be shown in urban spaces around Warsaw do so even more directly.
The inaugural concert of the Warsaw Autumn 2010 will feature the first performance of a new work by Zygmunt Krauze for four pianos and orchestra. The same scoring is used by Tomasz Sikorski in his Omaggio (in memoriam Jorge Louis Borges), and the program will be rounded out by Louis Andriessen’s Haags Hakkûh for two pianos and orchestra. On that same evening, a new composition by Paweł Szymański, commissioned by the Adam Mickiewicz Institute on the occasion of its tenth anniversary, will be performed during the Institute’s gala concert at the National Philharmonic. The work is scored for piano and 8 harps.
The 53rd Warsaw Autumn Festival will feature premieres of compositions by Gordon Monahan, Zygmunt Krauze, Paweł Szymański, Maja Ratkje, Ørjan Matre, Eivind Buene, Christian Eggen, Włodzimierz Kotoński, Rytis Mažulis, Marcin Bortnowski, Doina Rotaru, Marcin Stańczyk, Jarosław Kapuściński, Agata Zubel, Hanna Kulenty, Lidia Zielińska, Wojciech Ziemowit Zych, Jerzy Kornowicz, and Cristian Lolea. The majority of these works are Warsaw Autumn commissions.
Performers will include the orchestras of the National Philharmonic, Sinfonia Iuventus and Sinfonia Varsovia as well as chamber orchestras and ensembles such as Österreichisches Ensemble für Neue Musik, Oslo Sinfonietta, Les Percussions de Strasbourg, Aukso Tychy City Chamber Orchestra, Ensemble Nikel, European Workshop for Contemporary Music, Kwadrofonik, De Ereprijs, and musikFabrik. Conductors will include Reinbert de Leeuw, Christian Eggen, Marek Moś, Rüdiger Bohn, René Gulikers, Emilio Pomarico, Étienne Siebens, among others.
As always, the Warsaw Autumn Festival is not only a celebration of Polish composers, but of contemporary composers worldwide. In this spirit, the Festival will also feature an international collaboration between the Norwegian network for Technology, Acoustics and Music (NoTAM) [Norsk nettverk for Teknologi, Akustikk og Musikk] and the Chopin University of Music in Warsaw. The project, entitled “Electronics meet the challenges of the 21st century,” is dedicated to the promotion of new technologies applied in contemporary electro-acoustic music and will culminate in a concert (September 22) and a conference (September 23-25). Read more about this event on the website of the organizing body, www.artmusfair.pl.
[Sources: “About the 53rd Warsaw Autumn” program available at warszawska-jesien.art.pl, artmusfair.pl]
Int’l Chopin Festival In Duszniki Zdroj
From August 6-14, the International Chopin Festival will be filled—just like it is every year—with concerts, recitals and master classes. A substantial number of Polish and foreign artists are expected to participate. “The unique fact about the Festival is that it is the oldest piano festival—not only a Chopin-themed festival—in the world,” according to Piotr Paleczny, the Festival’s Director and a prominent Polish pianist. “A huge advantage of this Festival is its chamber-like setting: we have no large concert hall but the stage where, many years ago, Chopin performed solo in 1826. This fact evokes a great deal of respect from the performers and it ennobles our Festival. There are practically no other Festivals anywhere which have this kind of a historical and long-lasting tradition.”
The inaugural concert, held in the Festival Tent inside the City Park, will be given by the Wrocław Philharmonic Orchestra and soloist Piotr Paleczny. The remaining concerts will be heard in Chopin’s former residence. Many former finalists from the Chopin International Piano Competition were invited to perform. The 1990 Second Prize Winner, Kevin Kenner will be heard in recital on Saturday, August 7. The following Monday the public will hear Sa Chen (Fourth Prize winner from the year 2000) and Dang Thai Son (Winner of the 1980 Competition). Jean-Marc Luisada (Fifth Prize, 1985 Competition) will perform on August 13, whilst pianists Ayako Uehary and Stanisław Bunin will be heard on August 8, Nelson Goerner on August 11, Fabio Bindini on August 14, and Ewa Kupiec—a native of Duszniki—on August 12.
As usual, many other young and talented artists—winners of prestigious piano competitions from all around the world—will also be heard. Yuja Wang, a winner of the Aspen Music Festival Concerto Competition and the 2009 Gramophone Magazine Young Artist Award laureate will perform on Saturday, August 7. Chinese pianist from Hong-Kong, Rachel Cheung—winner of the Second Prize at the 2008 Alessandro Casagrande International Piano Competition and the Fourth Prize at the 2009 Leeds Competition—will perform a day later. The Tuesday-Saturday afternoon recital series will offer an exceptional opportunity to hear winners of the most famous competitions, including the Chroatian pianist Martina Filjak on August 10 (winner of the Cleveland Piano Competition), Russian pianist Denis Kozukhin on August 11 (the 2009 Vendome Prize in Lisbon), and his compatriot Sofya Gulyak on August 12 (the first female winner of the Leeds International Piano Competition. Two South Korean pianists, Seong-Jin Cho (First Prize, Hamamatsu International Piano Competition and Yeol Eum Son (silver Medal at the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition) will be heard on August 13 and 14. Polish pianists entering this year’s Chopin Competition in Warsaw will be heard on August 12.
The master classes that will accompany this year’s Festival will be conducted from August 6-9 by Professor Choong-Mo Kang from Seoul, and Professor Jerome Rose from New York City (August 11-14). Professor Jan Ekier will deliver a lecture on August 10. A 12:30 p.m. Sunday, August 8 Holy Mass in the Parish Church on Kłodzka Street will be said in Chopin’s memory. During the service, a Mass by Józef Elsner will be performed by soprano Justyna Reczeniedi, Elżbieta Wróblewska, mezzo, and the Villa Musica Ensemble including violinist Józef Kolinek, violist Piotr Nowicki, cellist Piotr Hausenplast, and organist Krzysztof Marosek.
For more information and a full program, visit the official Festival website, chopin.festival.pl, or polmic.pl.
Int’l Highlanders Meet In Zakopane
The International Highlander Folklore Festival in Zakopane (August 20 – 27, 2010) will celebrate the folk culture of highland troupes from Poland alongside African tribe dance and Argentinean tango. This year marks the 42nd edition of one of the oldest and biggest folklore festivals in the world. “Folklore bands from Sierra Leone in Africa and Cordoba in Argentina will be the stars of this year’s festival”, says Andrzej Kawecki, the director of Zakopane’s Promotion Office.
This year 12 folklore bands from Turkey, Italy, Serbia, Romania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Slovenia, Portugal, Macedonia, Greece, France, the Czech Republic and Bulgaria will compete for the festival’s main prize: The Golden Shepherd’s Axe [Złota ciupaga]. These colorful troupes will take the stage of the huge Festival tent, called “the scarfed chamber” or “chuściana izba” by Polish highlanders. The Polish bands participating are selected by the jury at July’s Polish Highlanders Folklore Festival in Żywiec.
[Sources: PAP, culture.pl]
Chopin & Paderewski Year
Auguscik Triumphant In Chicago
On July 25th, the U.S. premiere of Chopin 200–Grazyna Auguscik’s World Sound took place in Chicago’s Millennium Park. In addition to jazz vocalist Grazyna Auguscik, performers included Matt Ulery, bass; the Andrzej Jagodzinski Trio; Jarek Bester, accordion; Paulinho Garcia, guitar and vocals; The Chicago International Trombone Ensemble; Howard Levy, harmonica and piano; Ian Maksin, cello; and Issa Boulos, ooud.
The concert review written by Howard Reich, who has been an award-winning Chicago Tribune arts critic and writer since 1983, explodes with praise—for Auguscik, for her musical cohorts, and for Chopin himself:
An estimated 8,500 listeners heard Chopin’s music radically transformed through jazz, though one hazards to guess that Chopin himself might have reveled in these sounds. His piano music, after all, bristles with the spirit of improvisation, as if the composer had sat down at the keyboard and instantaneously invented some of the most enduring works in the piano repertory. Most of Chopin’s preludes, etudes and nocturnes unfold in utterly unpredictable ways, changing emotional tone at the drop of a sixteenth note – just like jazz.
Though Chopin in fact meticulously honed his compositions, rigorously rewriting and refining passages, the mercurial quality of his music finds eloquent expression in jazz, as Chicago singer Grazyna Auguscik affirmed on this night. Joined by equally adventurous musicians from Chicago, Krakow and beyond, Auguscik illuminated the melodic beauty, harmonic daring and restless spirit of Chopin’s music.
Born and raised in Poland but based in Chicago since 1994, Auguscik long has applied the smoldering lyricism of Polish music to American jazz. Her voice – sometimes gauzy, sometimes liquid – proves malleable enough to suit music from both cultures.
From her ethereal first notes, she made clear that this was going to be an unconventional evening.
Ultimately, though, this was Auguscik’s night, and with it she clearly launched a new phase of her career. She’ll likely be performing and recording this repertoire for years to come – it’s that important
Read the entire review, entitled “Yes, Chopin’s music can swing – and then some” [H. Reich – July 26, 2010], at www.chicagotribune.com.
[Sources: chicagotribune.com, explorechicago.org, photo: myspace.com/graz17]
“Project Chopin” & The Flying Machine
BreakThru Films (producers of the Oscar-winning Peter & the Wolf) continues development of their extraordinary film project inspired by the music of Frederic Chopin. Most recently, American actress Heather Graham and Chinese pianist Lang Lang have joined the cast—Lang Lang will also be performing the score. The film, entitled The Flying Machine, combines 3D live action and stop motion animation. In celebration of the 200-year anniversary of the birth of Chopin. It is being created and produced in cooperation with Se-Ma-For Studios in Łódź and the Łódź City Council, Beijing-based Bona International Film Group, the Polish Film Institute, TVP and Canal Plus in Poland, Norway’s Storm Studio and France’s Denis Friedman Production, and is scheduled for release by the end of 2010.
“Project Chopin” is intended to serve as an educational platform which promotes vital social and cultural values through entertainment. In addition to the 85-minute film, the project also includes 24 short films based on Chopin’s 24 Etudes, an online game and live stage performances. Although mainly addressed at children and young people, these Chopin-related media are sure to appeal to adults as well.
[Sources: culture.pl, breakthrufilms.co.uk]
Fantasia On Polish Airs – Ballet Premiere
In honor of Chopin’s birthday celebration, Luminario Ballet of Los Angeles presents the premiere of the ballet Fantasia on Polish Airs, created by “LA’s revered ballet maestro,”Polish choreographer Stefan Wenta, This premiere will take place during the Luminario Ballet program entitled “Taking Flight” at the Ford Theater on Friday, August 6, 2010 at 8:30 p.m.
Friday, August 6, 2010 at 8:30 PM
Fantasia on Polish Airs – a ballet by Stefan Wenta
2580 Cahuenga Blvd, Hollywood, CA 90068
Tickets: www.luminarioballet.org or (323) 461-3673
$30; $25 in advance – VIP dinner tickets $100.00
More info: (818) 395-6506 or www.luminarioballet.org
[Source: fordamphitheater.org, luminarioballet.org, functionalart.com]
A Different Perspective On The Chopin Year
“We are in for a ghastly year: they will be hassling us with Chopin and Chopin with us. As a consequence of the Mozart Year no one wants to talk about the music of Mozart to this day today. The idea of the Chopin Year, the fact that we will be harping on about Chopin all year round, seems anti-Chopin and terrible to me, given the intelligence, gentleness and otherness of his music. Is it really something you can exploit throughtout [sic] a whole year?”
Read the entire editorial by Andrzej Żuławski (b. 1940) —noted Polish film director, writer, screenwriter—at biweekly.pl (the English version of Dwutygodnik).
[Source: biweekly.pl, Photo: Jerzy Gumowski (Gazeta Wyborcza) – filmpolski.pl]
Chopin & His Europe Festival
The 6th International Chopin and His Europe Festival [Międzynarodowy Festiwal Muzyczny Chopin i jego Europa] will be held from August 1-31 2010. The organizer of the Festival is the National Fryderyk Chopin Institute [Narodowy Instytut Fryderyka Chopina] Inaugurated in 2005, Chopin and his Europe is an annual international music festival celebrating the life and work of Fryderyk Chopin. A number of venues across Warsaw, including the city’s Philharmonic Hall, host concerts dedicated to Poland’s favorite musicians.
The 2010 festival, entitled Rok Chopinowski (Chopin’s Year), celebrates Chopin’s bicentenary. Pianists celebrating Chopin’s solo repertoire in early evening recitals include Evgeni Koroliov, Philippe Giusiano, Denis Matsuev, Fou Ts’ong, Michaela Ursualesa, Lilya Zilberstein, Pietro De Maria, Christian Zacherias and Maria João Pires.
Alongside homegrown Sinfonia Varsovia, the Polish National and Warsaw Philharmonics, visitors include the Russian National, Champs-Élysèes and Lausanne Chamber Orchestras, while Chopin’s love of opera is explored by Fabio Biondi and his Europe Galante giving the first modern Polish performance of Bellini’s Norma on period instruments.
Another highlight of this year’s Festival will be the King’s Singers performing the music of Mikołaj Zieleński (Benedicimus Deum, Adoramus te, Viderunt omnes fines terrae, Vox in Rama, and In Monte Oliveti) on August 3 in Polish Radio’s Witold Lutosławski Concert Studio.
Read more about this Festival at chopin.nifc.pl, magazynchopin.pl, or www.culture.pl.
[Sources: chopin2010.pl, whatsonwhen.com]
Augustyn Plays Chopin & Paderewski
On Friday, August 13, the Philadelphia Chapter of the Kosciuszko Foundation presents its celebration of the Year of Chopin and Paderewski during its Sixth Annual Summer Concert and Silent Auction. This year’s Concert features award-winning artists Kinga Augustyn, violin, and Anna Shelest, piano, in a recital of works by Chopin, Paderewski, Lutoslawski, and Wieniawski.
Friday, August 13
7:30pm – wine & cheese / 8:00 – concert / 9:00 – artist reception
Annual Summer Concert with Kinga Augustyn & Anna Shelest
Philadelphia Chapter of the Kosciuszko Foundation
Ethical Society Building
1906 S. Rittenhouse Square
Philadelphia, PA, 19103
Tickets: Adults – $35 advance/ $40 at the door ; Students: $15 advance/ $20 at the door
Reservations: contact Alfred J.Wolanin at 267 – 987 – 5347 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Polish Pianists At La Roque d’Anthéron
Over the past 29 years, La Roque d’Anthéron International Piano Festival has established itself as an exceptional event on the world’s musical landscape. Although the Festival sites have changed over the years, the Parc du Château de Florans in La Roque d’Anthéron (a small town 50 kilometres north of Aix-en-Provence) remains the main site for these remarkable encounters. This is where for all types of music come together: from classical to contemporary, jazz to electronic, featuring young talents as well as renowned greats.
Over 50 pianists will perform during the Festival, among them artists from Poland, such as Julia Kociuban and Marcin Koziak playing the music of Frédéric Chopin.Sinfonia Varsovia, which over the years has become a regular participant of the event, will be conducted by Jacek Kaspszyk and George Tchitchinadze.
A piano recital by Marcin Koziak and a concert by Sinfonia Varsovia will be broadcast on the French television channel “arte”.
For a detailed programme of the event, see: www.festival-piano.com.
[Reprinted from: www.culture.pl, Poster: avignon-et-provence.com]
Paleczny & Sinfonia Varsovia In Paris
A crowd of about five thousand listeners gathered at the Jardin du Luxembourg in Paris on Sunday afternoon, July 26, to hear a concert of music by Frederic Chopin performed by pianist Piotr Paleczny and the Sinfonia Varsovia orchestra. It was the last in a series of concerts devoted to Chopin’s music and held in this historical park located in the Sixth Arrondissement. The orchestra was led by maestro Jacek Kaspszyk and the program included Chopin’s Piano Concertos in F minor and E minor. The performers received a very warm round of applause with a large portion of the audience giving the Polish musicians a standing ovation.
This series of open air concerts in Paris was inspired by a long-standing Warsaw tradition of concerts in the Łazienki Royal Palace Park and began in the French capital on June 20. Artists such as Janusz Olejniczak, Joanna Ławrynowicz, Justyna Galant-Wojciechowska, Filip Wojciechowski, and the celebrated Polish jazz pianist, Leszek Możdżer, were heard in performance during the past few weeks. Organized jointly by the City of Warsaw, Stołeczna Estrada (a concert agency), the Senate of the Republic of France, and the Polish Institute in Paris, the Sunday afternoon concerts were coupled with exhibits of Polish posters depicting Chopin’s music and life created by Henryk Tomaszewski, Roman Cieślewicz, and Andrzej Pągowski, among others.
Chopin Bicenntenial Concert On DVD
The February 27, 2010 Chopin Concert at Zipper Hall in Los Angeles is now available on DVD. The featured performers were: – Jane Kaczmarek – hosting and poetry about Chopin; Wojciech Kocyan – piano, Alexander Suleiman – cello; John Perry – piano; Michael & Priscilla Pawlicki, Francoise Regnat, and Charles Fierro – eight hands on two pianos; foreword by Consul General of Poland in Los Angeles, Ambasador Joanna Kozinska-Frybes.
For a donation made to the Paderewski Music Society you may enjoy this set of a DVD and two CDs forever. Suggested donation, including S&H within the USA: $33, $53, $50, or $100+. For international shipping, please add $5 to all donations between $30 and $50
Chopin Chamber Works On DUX
Fryderyk Chopin: The Complete Chamber Works
Fryderyk Chopin (1810-1849) : Polonaise in C major for Piano & Cello Op.3; Trio in G minor for Piano, Violin & Cello Op.8; Gran duo concertant on themes from „Robert le Diable” by G. Meyerbeer (1883); Sonata in G minor for Piano and Cello Op.65
Jan Kalinowski – cello, Bartłomiej Nizioł – violin, Marek Szlezer – piano (performing on a Pleyel piano from 1845)
When compared with the entire body of the piano output of Fryderyk Chopin(1810-1849), his chamber works constitute a fairly modest group, both in terms of number and historical importance. All of them were occasional pieces, written, directly or indirectly, for the composer’s friends and acquaintances. Chopin’s chamber pieces exhibited a strong affinity with the stylistic trends and aesthetic conventions which were fashionable at the time. Even though they still have the stamp of originality, in writing them Chopin deliberately distanced himself from the stylistic idiom of his works for solo piano. In fact, they seem to come closer to his preceding orchestral works dating from 1827-1830.
During that period Chopin became fascinated with the then highly popular early-Romantic aesthetic known as ‘style brilliant’, whose most prominent representatives were Johann Nepomuk Hummel and Carl Maria von Weber. In order to study this music better, Chopin went to Berlin, in 1829. There, he discovered another important source of inspiration – operatic bel canto. In Berlin’s Singakademie, he heard operas by Spontini, Cimarosa and Weber. The perfectly melodious vocal phrases of these operas enchanted him so much that from that time onwards, both as a pianist and composer, he attempted to imitate it by means of an instrumental phrase, that is ‘singing’ on the piano…. [from the liner notes byTomasz Jeż (Transl: Michał Kubicki)]
The prestigious magazine The Strad wrote about Jan Kalinowski and Marek Szlezer, who perform together as the Cracow Duo: ‘Kalinowski and Szlezer, friends since childhood, have a wonderfully natural rapport and there is an arresting quality to their playing that gives life to the music.’ The shared fascination with Polish music has madethe Cracow Duo its committed promoters at home and abroad, where they have presented works for cello and piano by such composers as Aleksander Tansman, Zygmunt Stojowski, Ludomir Różycki and Tadeusz Majerski, as well as works by contemporary Polish and foreign composers written specially for them.
Born in 1974 in Szczecin, Bartłomiej Nizioł started to play the violin at the age of five. He graduated with distinction from the Music Academy in Poznań, where he studied with Jadwiga Kaliszewska. He is the winner of several prestigious competitions, including those in Lublin, Poznań, Adelaide, Pretoria, Brussels and Paris. He has twice received the ‘Fryderyk’ awards of the Polish recording industry for CDs featuring works by Henryk Wieniawski and Grażyna Bacewicz. He has performed as soloist with many renowned orchestras (Warsaw Philharmonic, Sinfonia Varsovia, the National Polish Radio SO in Katowice, the Berlin Symphony Orchestra, NDR Orchestra in Hanover, SWR Orchestra in Kaiserslautern, the Tonhalle Zurich, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, English Chamber Orchestra, London Symphony, Edmonton Symphony) and has appeared in such prestigious venues as the Salle Pleyel in Paris, the Barbican Centre in London, the Berlin Philharmonic, the Suntory Hall in Tokyo, the Konzerthaus in Vienna and the Moscow Conservatory. Bartłomiej Nizioł has resided in Switzerland since 1995. In 1997-2003 he served as leader of the Tonhalle Orchestra and since 2003 has held the same position in the orchestra of Zurich Opera. He is also first violinist in the Stradivari Quartet founded in 2007. He has sat on the jury of the Wieniawski Violin Competition in Poznań. He has been a professor at the Hochschule der Künste Bern since September 2008. He plays on a Giuseppe Guarnerius del Gesù instrument dating from 1727.
Young Composers In Tribute To Chopin
The following are the albums released so far in the “Young Composers in Tribute to Fryderyk Chopin” series produced by DUX Records:
Młodzi Kompozytorzy w Hołdzie Fryderykowi Chopinowi
2 CD set of the first installment in the “Young Composers in Tribute to Fryderyk Chopin” series
Dariusz Przybylski Utwory na orkiestrę
Orkiestra Kameralna Aukso – dyr. Marek Moś, Sinfonia Iuventus – dyr. Krzysztof Słowiński, Jadwiga Kotnowska, Janusz Wawrowski
Wojciech Ziemowit Zych Utwory na orkiestrę [Works for Orchestra]
Orkiestra Opery i Filharmonii Podlaskiej w Białymstoku – dyr. Przemysław Fiugajski, Michał Górczyński
Weronika Ratusińska: Utwory na orkiestrę [Works for Orchestra]
Orkiestra Filharmonii Śląskiej, Orkiestra Filharmonii Śląskiej – dyr. Mirosław Jacek Błaszczyk, Tomasz Strahl
Sławomir Zamuszko: Utwory na orkiestrę [Works for Orchestra]
Orkiestra Filharmonii Śląskiej – dyr. Mirosław Jacek Błaszczyk, Agata Igras-Sawicka, Anna Werecka, Artur Pachlewski, Róża Wilczak-Płaziuk
Stanisław Bromboszcz: Muzyka kameralna [Chamber Music]
Orkiestra Muzyki Nowej – dyr. Szymon Bywalec, Śląska Orkiestra Kameralna – dyr. Szymon Bywalec, Bartosz Koziak, Jarosław Mamczarski, Stanisław Bromboszcz
Paweł Hendrich: Utwory kameralne [Chamber works]
Kuba Badach, Paweł Hendrich, Kwartludium, Orkiestra Muzyki Nowej – dyr. Szymon Bywalec, Michał Siciński, Elżbieta Woleńska, Jakub „Zgas” Żmijowski
Chopin in Naxos
CHOPIN – Piano Concerto No 1, Fantasy on Polish Airs, Rondo à la krakowiak
Eldar Nebolsin, piano; Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra, Antoni Wit, conductor
A new recording on the NAXOS label features a 2 CD set ofChopin’s complete works for piano and orchestra. The recording features pianist Eldar Nebolsin, winner of the Santander and Moscow piano competitions, accompanied by the Polish National Philharmonic under the baton of Antoni Wit. The repertoire includes Concertos Op. 11 and 21, the Don Giovanni Variations, Op. 2, Fantasy on Polish Airs, Op. 13, Rondo a la Krakowiak, Op. 14, and Andante spianato and Grand Polonaise brillante, Op. 22. This recording is the first to be based on the new National Edition of Chopin’s Collected Works that includes extensive source commentary and performing practice information.
Chopin’s youthful Piano Concerto No. 1 is dominated by the brilliant piano part that the teenage performer-composer wrote to showcase his extraordinary virtuosity. Its ravishing Romanza (‘reviving in one’s soul beautiful memories’, as the composer described it) is framed by an opening movement rich in dramatic lyricism and a vivacious Rondo. The Fantasia on Polish Airs, Op. 13 and Krakowiak are similarly vehicles for Romantic reverie and bravura which pay tribute to the music of Chopin’s homeland. Eldar Nebolsin’s recording of Liszt’s piano concertos (NAXOS 8.570517) was ranked ‘among the finest’ by Gramophone.
[Source: muzyka.onet.pl, naxos.com]
This year’s edition of the Bregenzer Festpiele honored the Polish composer Mieczysław Weinberg (1919-1996). On July 21, Festival audiences heard the world premiere of The Passenger, Weinberg’s first opera, based on the moving novel by Zofia Posmysz of the same title. The Passenger was repeated on July 26, 28 and 31 as well.
According to the website of the Adam Mickiewicz Institute:
Zofia Posmysz‘s Passenger [Pasażerka] is the first instance in fine literature of an attempt to reflect concentration camp realities and the Holocaust from the point of view of the perpetrators. Mieczysław Weinberg‘s opera, based on this work, is the only one in the world dedicated to the Holocaust, written by composer of the “war” generation. The opera has been previously shown only in its concert version in Moscow in 2006.
Other Festival events related to Weinberg included a performance of The Portrait (op. 128), Weinberg’s 3-act opera with libretto by Alexander Medwedew based on the novel of the same title by Nikolai Gogol; a Symposium about the composer (July 31-Aug 2); and the Filmweek (July 23-37), a comprehensive retrospective of Weinberg’s extensive catalog of film music.
[Source: culture.pl, bregenzerfestspiele.com]
Re:New Music 2009-2010
Re:New Music is a European project aimed at promoting contemporary music and supporting the circulation and performance of existing high quality ensemble repertoire. Through a unique partner network between European composers, new music ensembles, music information centers, composer societies and copyright associations, Re:New Music is creating a permanent network across the project’s 11 European countries, and the project will pave the way for a new and dynamic exchange of music, knowledge and new ideas.
This project was brought into life by the Nordic Composers Council and is administered by Danish Composers Society. In 2009, the Polish Music Information Center in Warsaw as well as two Polish ensembles specializing in new music—Kwartludium + and Orkiestra Muzyki Nowej—joined the project. Other international ensembles participating include: Reconsil, Klangforum Wien, On Ensemble, Hebrides Ensemble, Cikada Ensemble and London Sinfonietta.
The 22 ensembles involved carry out the project’s main activities – concerts where each ensemble can receive funding from the project to rehearse and perform the work and build a context around it: invite the composer for a residency, do workshops, seminars and open rehearsals – to secure a true interaction and exchange and to reach out to students, new audiences, etc. The goal is More performances of new music by living composers, in More countries and by More ensembles.
The Re:New Music project has also created an excellent database compiling new compositions that are submitted by the member ensembles, including quite a few by Polish composers. Kwartludium + alone has submitted compositions of W. Z. Zych, A. Gryka, W. Blecharz, and D. Przybylski among others. Called the “MatchMaker Database,” it is available online for free at renewmusic.org/matchmaker.
The Re:New Music project will be featured at the 53rd International Contemporary Music Festival “Warsaw Autumn” [Warszawska Jesień] during the European Workshop for Contemporary Music 2010 (September 12-20) and the ArtMusFair final concert (September 23-24). This two year-long project will end in November 2010.
[Sources: renewmusic.org, kwartludium.com, omn.art.pl]
New Szymanowska Monograph In English
Maria Szymanowska (1789-1831): A Bio-Bibliography by Anna E. Kijas
Publisher: The Scarecrow Press, Inc., 2010
The new monograph by Anna E. Kijas is a result of detailed studies of a rich variety of source materials on composer Maria Szymanowska and will serve as an important repository of knowledge about one of the most interesting personalities in the history of Polish culture.
Working at the University of Connecticut, the author presents the life and career of the 19th century pianist and composer of famous Polonaises, who was described by Adam Mickiewicz as “The Queen of the Tones.” The book is also a fascinating study of the times, illustrating many of the everyday difficulties in the life of this independent single woman and artist, a rarity in her day.
The book is divided into a biographical section followed by bibliography and extensive factual information regarding Szymanowska’s compositions, discography, and literature devoted to the subject contains many interesting facts. Among them are many concert tour details (including press reviews, details on travelling and accommodations) from Szymanowska’s six years of touring throughout Europe, as well as details of her financial situation.
New Concert Hall For Warsaw
The Warsaw City Government announced a competition for architectural designs of a concert hall to be located on 272Grochowska Street and will serve as the new home for Sinfonia Varsovia. The application packet was made available online on June 30. The project envisions a design for a 1500-seat hall that will serve as a principal City Auditorium. The project will develop the former Veterinary School campus and use or adapt buildings already existing on the site. The invitation to enter the competition was extended to a variety of Polish and foreign architects, as well as acousticians, preservation experts and musicians from the Sinfonia Varsovia ensemble.
Sinfonia Varsovia In France
The Sinfonia Varsovia ensemble will spend the first half of August on tour in France, bringing a variety of programs to venues and audiences throughout the country. See tour details below:
August 2, 2010: Cloître Saint-Dominique, Sisteron
Fryderyk Chopin – Piano concerto No.2 op.21 in F minor (version for strings)
Antonin Dvořák – Serenade op.22 in E major
Sinfonia Varsovia with Jean-Marc Luisada – piano and Jacek Kaspszyk – conductor
Tickets & Info: www.concerts.fr
Festival International de Piano de la Roque d’Anthéron
August 7, 2010: Château Bas de Mimet
Robert Schumann – Manfred Overture op. 115
Ferenc Liszt – Piano concerto No.2 in A major
Robert Schumann – Symphony No.4 op.120 in D minor
Sinfonia Varsovia with Plamena Mangova – piano and Jacek Kaspszyk – conductor
August 8, 2010: Parc du Château de Florans
Robert Schumann – Introduction and Allegro appassionato op.92
Robert Schumann – Introduction and Allegro de concert op.134 in D minor
Robert Schumann – Piano concerto op.54 in A minor
Sinfonia Varsovia with Abdel Rahman El Bacha – piano and Jacek Kaspszyk – conductor
August 9, 2010: Etang des Aulnes
Ludwig van Beethoven – Sumphony No.3 op.55 in E-flat major Eroica
Ludwig van Beethoven – Piano concerto No.2 op.19 in B-flat major
Sinfonia Varsovia with Stephen Kovacevich – piano and Jacek Kaspszyk – conductor
August 11, 2010: Parc du Château de Florans
Fryderyk Chopin – Piano concerto No.1 op.11 in E minor
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart – Symphony No.40 in G minor KV 550
Sinfonia Varsovia with Anne Queffélec – piano and George Tchitchinadze – conductor
August 13, 2010: Parc du Château de Florans
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart – Le Nozze di Figaro Overture KV 492
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart – Piano concerto No. 22 in E-flat major KV 482
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart – Symphony No.41 in C major KV 551 Jupiter
Sinfonia Varsovia with David Fray – piano and George Tchitchinadze – conductor
Tickets & Info: www.festival-piano.com
Festival de Musique 2010 de Menton
August 16, 2010: Parvis de la Basilique Saint Michel Archange, Menton / France
Fryderyk Chopin – Piano concerto No.2 op.21 in F minor (version for strings)
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart – Requiem in D minor KV 626
Sinfonia Varsovia with Vlaams Radio Koor, Helen Kearns – soprano, Anne-Fleur Inizan – mezzo-soprano, Yury Haradzetski – tenor, Ronan Collet – bass, Roustem Saitkoulov – piano, and Christopher Warren-Green – conductor
Tickets & Info: www.musique-menton.fr
Festival de Musique Classique de Montmorillon
August 18, 2010: Chapelle Saint Laurent, Montmorillon / France
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart – Requiem in D minor KV 626
Sinfonia Varsovia with Vlaams Radio Koor, Helen Kearns – soprano, Anne-Fleur Inizan – mezzo-soprano, Yury Haradzetski – tenor, Ronan Collet – bass, Roustem Saitkoulov – piano, and Christopher Warren-Green – conductor
Tickets & Info: www.festival-musique.over-blog.com
Poles At Proms
Tomasz Konieczny served as the bass soloist in the “First Night of the Proms” opening concert on July 16, which featured a rousing performance of Mahler’s Symphony No. 8 in E flat major, “Symphony of a Thousand” at Royal Albert Hall. Other performers were: sopranos Mardi Byers, Twyla Robinson, and Malin Christensson; mezzo-sopranos Stephanie Blythe and Kelley O’Connor; tenor Stefan Vinke; bass-baritone Hanno Müller-Brachmann; the Choristers of St Paul’s Cathedral, Westminster Abbey and Westminster Cathedral; the BBC Symphony Chorus; Crouch End Festival Chorus; Sydney Philharmonia Choirs; and the BBC Symphony Orchestra, with Jiří Bělohlávek as conductor.
For reviews of the concert, visit www.operatoday.com or www.classicalsource.com.
On July 21, the music of Frédéric Chopin (1810–49) rang through Royal Albert Hal during Prom 7, when Portuguese pianist Maria João Pires, whose recording of Chopin’s Nocturnes drew wide acclaim, celebrated the bicentenary year of Chopin’s birth with a performance of selected Nocturnes. The music of Chopin will be heard again on August 12 during Prom 36, when young French conductor Lionel Bringuier—who serves as Associate Conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic—makes his Proms debut. The program includes Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 2 in F minor, as well as works by Berlioz, Roussel, and Ravel, with pianist Nelson Freire and the BBC Symphony Orchestra.
New Movie, New Style For Kaczmarek
Academy Award-winning Polish composer Jan A. P. Kaczmarek was chosen to write the score for a new film entitled Get Low by Aaron Schneider. According to Variety writer Steve Chagollan, the movie’s setting of the American South presented an opportunity for Kaczmarek to explore a style of music that was new to him, a chance that the composer gladly welcomed. The following is from the Variety article, entitled “Composer likes mystery of the unknown”:
It could be said composer Jan Kaczmarek (“Finding Neverland”) is attracted to the unknown. When he moved from his native Poland to the United States in 1989, he chose to live in L.A. partly due to its unfamiliarity, and its promise of “unfulfilled dreams and expectations.” And, as he describes it, the film projects that most excite him involve genres and styles “that I’ve never done.”
And so when he was approached to score “Get Low,” a story set in 1930s Tennessee that mixes fact, rural folktales and myth, he was attracted to the idea of infusing the music with subtle elements of American bluegrass, which he describes as “having a mystery in it.”
Read the entire article at www.variety.com.
Interview With Kinga Augustyn
This month, the website of the Alexander & Buono International String Competition features an interview with Polish-born violinist Kinga Augustyn. Having completed her Bachelors (2004) and Masters (2007) degrees as a full scholarship student in the Juilliard School in New York, Augustyn went on to win First Prize in the Alexander & Buono International String Competition in 2009. In her interview, Augustyn discusses past performance reviews, the relationship between musician and instrument, and the repertoire that has been most important to her as a developing violinist. Read the entire article at www.abstrings.com.
[Photo credit: Peter Schaaf]
Musica Festiva Award
Three new compositions received their world premieres during a gala concert in the courtyard of Kraków’s Wawel Castle on July 15. These works represented the final selections from among the 34 compositions submitted to the competition entitled “Wawel: musica festiva.” They were performed ensemble specially convened for the occasion, and called the Musica Festiva Orchestra, was drawn from a number of Kraków-based orchestras including the Philharmonic, the Opera, and the Music Academy. It was led by Stanisław Krawczyński, President of the Kraków Music Academy. The finalists were:
- Misterium przestrzeni [The Mystery of Space] by Zbigniew Bargielski
- Szarże [Charges] by Łukasz Pieprzyk
- Przestrzenie [Spaces] by Tomasz Jakub Opałka
The concert was concluded with a performance of H.M. Górecki’s Symphony No. 2 “Copernican”.
After the performances, the jury—led by Henryk Mikołaj Górecki, assisted by Zbigniew Bujarski, Krzysztof Droba, Eugeniusz Knapik, Jerzy Kornowicz and Stanisław Krawczyński—decided to award the Grand Prize to Tomasz Jakub Opałka for his composition, Przestrzenie. This prize is worth 50,000 PLN [approximately $17,000].
Mr. Opałka, 27, is a student of the Chopin Music University in Warsaw. He disclosed that his composition was inspired by words of Henryk Mikołaj Górecki about “searching for music that is festive in itself and aiming on high.” In an interview with the festival’s artistic director, Małgorzata Janicka-Słysz, Mr. Opałka further stated, “I composed this piece thinking of the Wawel Royal Castle; it is an exceptionally symbolic space, ideally given to music that is festive, inspiring, and regal.”
During the intermission, the audience had a choice to express their preference and selected Mr. Łukasz Pieprzyk’s Szarże, a work that is closely connected to the 600th anniversary of the Battle of Grunwald (Tannenberg). In this piece, the old Polish religious hymn Bogurodzica is quoted alongside sound effects of a battle.
[Source: polmic.pl, wawel.krakow.pl, cracow.travel]
“Gaude Polonia” Stipend
“Gaude Polonia,” a stipend program of the Polish Minister of Culture and National Heritage [MKiDN], was created in 2003. It is designed for young artists from Central and Eastern European countries, especially Belarus and Ukraine, who are studying with tutors in Poland. The program is open to musicians, visual artists, museum curators, film artists, translators, art historians and film, theater critics. Each year, up to 40 artists are accepted to take part in the program. (See a full description here: www.mobility-matters.eu)
“Gaude Polonia” is organized by Poland’s National Cultural Center. Stipend winners stay and work in Poland for half a year, during which time they complete specified projects under the supervision of renowned Polish artists and experts.
On July 15th, the Minister of Culture and National Heritage, Bogdan Zdrojewski, awarded diplomas to the participants of the 9th edition of the Gaude Polonia program. Among the participants were the following musicians:
- Roman Bardun (Ukraine) –jazz musician; tutor: Michał Tokaj, Post Secondary Jazz School in Warsaw
- Ołena Czernikowa (Ukraine) – musician; tutor: prof. Józef Serafin, Kraków Music Academy
- Ołeksandr Hładun (Ukraine) – musician; tutor: Marek Chołoniewski, Kraków Music Academy
- Ołena Ilnycka (Ukraine) – musician/composer; tutor: prof. Aleksander Lasoń, Katowice Music Academy
- Wiktoria Łuniakina (Ukraine) – musician; tutor: dr hab. Monika Swarowska–Walawska, Kraków Music Academy
- Hanna Ochrimczuk (Ukraine) – jazz musician; tutor: Janusz Szrom, Post Secondary Jazz School in Warsaw
- Danyło Percow (Ukraine) – musician; tutor: Marek Chołoniewski, Kraków Music Academy
- Iryna Szumskaja (Belarus) – musicologist; tutor: prof. Piotr Dahlig, Warsaw University
- Orest Żuk (Ukraine) – jazz musician; tutor: Piotr Lemański, Post Secondary Jazz School in Warsaw
[Source: mkidn.gov.pl (photo & text)]
Top Prize At Int’l Choir Fest In Switzerland
The Poznań Chamber Choir, led by Bartosz Michałowski, triumphed at the 13th International Choir Festival in Neuchâtel, Switzerland. The jury unanimously awarded the ensemble the First Prize and the choir also received the Audience Prize by an overwhelming popular vote. The jury also commented that the ensemble from Poznań gave the best performance of the obligatory choir composition, O Crux by Knut Nystedt. The competition was held from July 7-11, and featured choirs from Armenia, Australia, Belgium, Canada, Finland, Hungary, Italy, Moldova, Poland, Slovakia, and Slovenia.
The Poznań Chamber Choir combines the best Polish choral traditions with a passionate and open attitude towards art. The choir is celebrated both nationally and internationally for excellent musical renditions originating in its quest for the most profound sources of inspiration, ranging from lyrics, harmony, texture and form to the individual feelings of the conductor and choristers. The choir was established in 2005 by Bartosz Michałowski – the long-standing assistant to Prof Stefan Stuligrosz, the founder of the famous Boys´ and Men´s Choir of the Poznan Philharmonic – The Poznan Nightingales. The Choir has produced four CD recordings and in 2010, an album featuring traditional and jazz renditions of Karol Szymanowski’s Kurpie Songs will come out. For four years the choir has been cooperating with Poznan Philharmonic performing a capella concerts and carrying out projects with the Poznan Philharmonic Orchestra. Its broad repertoire is dominated by major choral works of contemporary composers from Poland (Łukaszewski, Jasiński, Penderecki, Górecki, Kilar and Bembinow) and abroad (Lauridsen, Nystedt, Whitacre, and Pärt). Furthermore, the choir performs Renaissance and Romantic compositions as well as various vocal – instrumental works from other epochs.
[Source: polmic.pl, poznanskichorkameralny.com]
Polish Compositions At World New Music Days
On July 15, 2010, the Polish national jury for the 2011 World New Music Days in Zagreb met to decide which Polish compositions would be recommended for the next World New Music Days Festival to be held from April 7-17, 2011 in Zagreb, Croatia. Members of the jury—Adam Sławiński, Jarosław Siwiński and Iwona Kisiel—reviewed the submitted scores and recommended the following for “Zagreb 2011”:
- Dariusz Przybylski – Apollo for Baritone and Percussionist
- Krzysztof Wołek – Un Claro del Tiempo for soprano, flute(s), piano and live electronics
- Bogdan Poleski – Baśń ze starej płyty (electronic music)
- Krzysztof Knittel – Pory roku (audio-visual installation)
- Sławomir Zamuszko – 5 melodii bułgarskich for symphony orchestra
- Piotr Komorowski – Rozbłyski for orchestra
These compositions will be submitted to the international jury of the 2011 World New Music Days.
Cantores Minore Start Tour In Southern CA
The resident choir of men and boys at the Cathedral of St. John in Warsaw paid a visit to Southern California, performing at Our Lady of the Lake Catholic Church in Lake Arrowhead on Sunday, July 25, and at St. Luke’s-in-the-Mountains Episcopal Church in La Crescenta on Monday, July 26. The choir was founded in 1990 by its present conductor and artistic director, the American born Joseph Herter, and is celebrating its twentieth anniversary with an extensive tour of the United States. (For a listing of all tour dates throughout the US, see the July Newsletter).
This fine group of talented singers is a dedicated ensemble of musicians who donate their time for church services at their home church in Warsaw. A good number of the choristers have stayed with the ensemble since its inception and their dedication—as well as that of their colleagues—was quite evident in their Southern California appearances.
The July 26 concert opened with a memorable interpretation of Bogurodzica, achieved by the unusual vocal coloring that paid homage to the performing tradition of this mediaeval plainchant. This very traditional—and oldest—Polish religious hymn launched the first section of Cantores Minores’ program, which was devoted to music by Polish masters. Equally at home with a wide spectrum of choral repertoire, the choir successfully navigated abrupt stylistic changes, where, for example, Grzegorz Gerwazy Gorczycki’s Baroque-era Omni die dic Marie was followed by one of Henryk Mikołaj Górecki’s Marian Songs dating from 1985, and then an arrangement of Frederic Chopin’s C minor Prelude to a text of Stabat Mater.
The occasional solo numbers featuring various members of the ensemble served as a welcome interlude to the all-choir repertoire. Baritone Rafał Kucharski gave a spirited interpretation of Chopin’s song, Hulanka whilst Michał Osmycki performed in a double role as a chorister and a solo violinist on several occasions. Zygmunt Stojowski’s Romanzefor Violin and Piano, César Franck’s Tantum Ergo, and Michael Oczko’s setting of Psalm 23 benefitted from Mr. Osmycki’s solo and obbligato roles.
Celebrating Chopin’s bicentennial with a few offerings from his opus was certainly an appropriate gesture. By programming Paderewski’s sole composition for piano and choir, Hei, orle biały!, Cantores Minores also paid homage to the 150th anniversary of Paderewski’s birth. This short piece written for Polish soldiers fighting on French soil during World War I served as a fitting end to the Polish section of the program.
The rest of the concert was generally devoted to American, French, and German composers, featuring Emma Lou Diemer’s Halleluja, Vittorio Giannini’s Credofrom Missa Adeste fideles, César Franck’s Sanctusfrom Messe à troix voix, André Caplet’s O Salutaris, Franz Biebl’s Ave Maria, and Théodore Dubois’ Benedicat vobis, which rather fittingly closed the program. A prolonged standing ovation after the July 26 performance in La Crescenta encouraged the choir director, Joe Herter, to launch his ensemble of Polish youth into I Have Another Building, a spiritual that Cantores Minores delivered with noticeable bravado. By that time, some in the audience became inclined to move with the spirit as well and sing the refrain; they were encouraged to do so by smiling Mr. Herter, lip-synching one-liners to the crowd. A good time was had by all, who emerged from the intimate naves of St. Luke’s church to a quiet suburban street lit by a full moon slowly rising over the mountains.
Cantores Minores will continue their coast-to-coast tour, stopping for concerts in Las Vegas, Nevada; Santa Fe, New Mexico; Denver, Colorado; Kansas City and St. Louis, Missouri; Palatine/Northfield, Illinois; Dearborn, Michigan; Erie, Pennsylvania; and Lackawanna/Buffalo and Bolton Landing, New York. The month-long tour will culminate with several performances in the New York City area, including a musical contribution during a mass at the Saint Patrick’s Cathedral in Manhattan.
* * * * *
This concert was also reviewed in the Crescenta Valley Weekly, with reviewer Robin Goldsworthy stating:
The selections were flawless but the choir’s performance of Ave Maria by German composer Franz Biebl was a standout. It was as if the voices of the choir lifted the audience which then floated up and down as the singers expertly weaved their voices around this spiritual piece.
Read the entire review at www.crescentavalleyweekly.com.
Polish Music In London
The following are excerpts from four reviews of concerts of Polish music and Polish musicians in London over the last few months, which were featured on the website of MusicWeb International
July 18, 2010 – Chopin: Lucy Parham (piano). Wigmore Hall, London.
This year’s 200th anniversary of Chopin’s birth has led to a plethora of musical tributes. But there was something particularly intimate and revealing about this recital by Lucy Parham, interspersed with readings by Sam West and Harriet Walter.… The piano music was well-chosen – ranging from the dreamy, mystical C minor nocturne, through the earthy mazurkas, to the final, lingering ballade in F minor. The playing, however, was less uniformly satisfying. Overall, Parham took a rather stiff, distanced approach – focusing, perhaps, on overcoming the music’s technical demands rather than its emotional inner workings.
[John-Pierre Joyce, 18.7.2010, MusicWeb International, London]
June 8, 2010 – Tchaikovsky Gala: Wen–Sinn Yang (cello), Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Grzegorz Nowak, cond. Cadogan Hall, London.
There can be no doubt in anyone’s mind, after hearing this show, that together Grzegorz Nowak and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra make a truly winning combination. I have heard quite a few performances by these musicians and Nowak always commands playing of the very highest standard from the orchestra. We, the audience, are lucky that the RPO has his services. Tonight’s performance of the 4th Symphony showed all that is best in musical performance. Starting with the richest and most sumptuous declamation of the fate motif from the horns – a real dream team here – Nowak led us through Tchaikovsky’s tortured mind in the first movement, seldom allowing for respite – with only a slight slackening of tension for the second subject – this was highly powered and agonising in its intensity. Although seeming to be a light movement Nowak managed to find moments of suffering in the Andantino… which have always been there, lurking in the harmonies… The playful scherzo was marvellous, Nowak giving each of the three musics their own style, thus the pizzicato strings were delightfully mellifluous, the wind circus–like and joyous and the brass march po–faced and strict. It was all so easily pleasing that the opening of the finale came as a real shock to our relaxed sensibilities. Here, again, Nowak found the terrors in the music, and with devastating calculation made the final appearance of the fate motif a real event, blowing the roof off our expectations of a mere repeat of earlier music, and bringing a kind of Armageddon to the work. A towering interpretation.
[Bob Briggs, 8.06.2010, MusicWeb International, London]
May 13, 2010 – Szymanowski and Rachmaninov: Michał Ćwizewicz (violin), RCM Symphony Orchestra. John Wilson, cond. Amaryllis Fleming Concert Hall, Royal College of Music, London
Szymanowski’s 1st Concerto is of such fiendish difficulty that few violinists have dared to take up the challenge. You cannot blame them, for even if they did give time to learning the work, one wonders how often they would get the opportunity to play it in public. Tonight’s performance wasbrought about by the choice of the soloist, and, being of Polish heritage, he has a vested interest in the music. So much so that, and despite the fact that nothing really holds terror for youth,Ćwizewiczplayed with a command and sureness which belied his 25 years. His understanding of the many moods and the ever changing direction of the music was masterly; in lyrical music he gave the fullest voice but he was also unafraid to attack the instrument in the many bravura passages. His octaves were breathtaking and one could believe that one was listening to a fiddler at the very top of his profession, not someone setting out on the threshold of what could be a major career. Szymanowski scored the work for a gigantic orchestra which he uses fully and loudly, but never once was the solo line obscured. Much praise for that must go to John Wilson for his inspired direction. It was a privilege to hear such a fine performance as this.
[Bob Briggs, 13.6.2010, MusicWeb International, London]
May 5, 2010 – Szymanowski, Schumann and Janáček: Iwona Sobotka (soprano), Henning Kraggerud (violin and viola), Piotr Anderszewski (piano), Belcea Quartet [Corina Belcea–Fisher and Laura Samuel (violins), Krzysztof Chorzelski (viola), Antoine Lederlin (cello)]. Wigmore Hall, London.
Szymanowski’s piano suite Metopes is another of his oriental works. Like the Janáček, the melodies are obscure, the music restless and intangible. Anderszewski played from memory – no mean feat in itself – and with an ease which never made one think of the immense difficulties of technique but allowed one to concentrate entirely on the music itself. This was a masterly interpretation….After the interval things heated up again. Szymanowski’s Songs of a Fairy Princess have always fascinated me for the simple reason that there is nothing vaguely fairy princess–like about his music, for the soprano is in ecstasy throughout, singing music which is devilishly high in tessitura and full of eastern promise, mainly that of sexual fervour. To be sure, the poor woman has her problems –
Sometimes I feel that God by mistake
Shut not a heart but a nightingale in my breast
– but there’s nothing in Szymanowski’s sister’s verses which would lead one to expect the kind of music he wrote. Perhaps he saw something in them which I am missing. No matter, this is a cycle of great beauty, into which Ms Sobotka gave her all, and so intense was her interpretation that I was quite worn out by the end, through sheer emotional force. And this is how it should be with these songs. [Bob Briggs, 5.6.2010, MusicWeb International, London]
New from DUX
Maklakiewicz, Twardowski, Moryto, Lewandowski: in honorem victorum militum Polonorum Grunwald 1410 – 2010
Jan Adam Maklakiewicz: Symphonic Poem “Grunwald”; Romuald Twardowski – Grunwald 1410; Stanisław Moryto – Overture for Orchestra “Year 1410”; and Janusz Bogdan Lewandowski – Fanfare for Polish Chivalry
Jarosław Bręk – bass, Warmińsko-Mazurska Philharmonic Orchestra in Olsztyn – Janusz Przybylski, cond.
Born This Month
- August 4, 1879 – Józef REISS, musicologist, Polish music expert (d. 1956)
- August 7, 1935 – Monika (Izabela) GORCZYCKA, musicologist (d. 1962)
- August 8, 1946 – Mieczyslaw MAZUREK, composer, teacher, choral conductor
- August 8, 1897 – Stefan SLEDZINSKI, conductor, musicologist
- August 10, 1914 – Witold MALCUZYNSKI, pianist, student of Lefeld
- August 11, 1943 – Krzysztof MEYER, composer, musicologist
- August 17, 1907 – Zygmunt MYCIELSKI, composer, writer
- August 18, 1718 – Jacek SZCZUROWSKI, composer, Jesuit, priest (d. after 1773)
- August 20, 1889 – Witold FRIEMAN, composer, pianist
- August 21, 1933 – Zbigniew BUJARSKI, composer
- August 22, 1924 – Andrzej MARKOWSKI, composer and conductor
- August 23, 1925 – Wlodzimierz KOTONSKI, composer
- August 28, 1951 – Rafal AUGUSTYN, composer, music critic
- August 29, 1891 – Stefan STOINSKI, music etnographer, organizer, conductor (d. 1945)
Died This Month
- August 15, 1898 – Cezar TROMBINI, singer, director of Warsaw Opera (b. 1835)
- August 15, 1936 – Stanislaw NIEWIADOMSKI, composer, music critic
- August 17, 1871 – Karol TAUSIG, pianist and composer, student of Liszt (b. 1841)
- August 21 1925 – Karol NAMYSLOWSKI, folk musician, founder of folk ensemble
- August 22, 1966 – Apolinary SZELUTO, composer and pianist
- August 23, 1942 – Waclaw WODICZKO, conductor (b. 1858), grandfather of Bohdan, conductor
- August 27, 1865 – Józef NOWAKOWSKI, pianist, composer, student of Elsner, friend of Chopin
- August 29, 1886 – Emil SMIETANSKI, pianist, composer (b. 1845)