Polish Music
Reference Center
Newsletter
August 1998, Vol. 4, no. 8
ISSN 1098-9188

Anniversaries * Awards * Books *
Discography * News * Penderecki Festival *
Polish Music Festival, Evanston *
Recent Performances * Warsaw Autumn


NEWS FLASH!

WARSAW AUTUMN: KRAUZE AND VIRTUAL REALITY

This year's Warsaw Autumn Festival, led by Festival Artistic Director, Krzysztof Knittel (September 19-24 1998), is honoring Zygmunt Krauze (60th birthday jubilee). The opening and closing concerts feature his music. For the first time ever the festival is dedicated to music from one geographic area: the Scandinavian countries. The concerts will feature music of well-known and young composers from Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and Finland. It could almost be dubbed a Nordic Music Festival. Also on the agenda: "Virtual meets reality. Audiovisual triangle drawn between Oslo, Helsinki and Warsaw. Opening of the festival Internet gallery, first of the series of presentations, and preparations for the concert on the 24th of September. The festival organizers invite input from the public and ask their online fans to be a part of the Warsaw Autumn Festival this year and link up with the Oslo--Helsinki--Warsaw virtual reality concert on the Internet! Through the Hyde Park on the web, you can contribute too!"

The web address is: http://www.warsaw-autumn.waw.pl

NEWS:

PENDERECKI PREMIERE AT THE OREGON BACH FESTIVAL

On July 11, 1998, the World premiere of Penderecki's Credo took place at Eugene, Oregon. A joint commission of the Oregon Bach Festival and International Bachakademie Stuttgart, the Credo was also supported with a grant from the Fult Endowment of the Arts Foundation of Western Oregon. Penderecki originally planned to write a full Mass (the program listed the title as Missa), but composed a 60-minute Credo that he finished, in typical fashion, after he had arrived in Oregon. The performance, conducted by Helmuth Rilling, required an orchestra of 75, a chorus of 70, the Phoenix Boys Choir, and a brass choir echoing from the balcony. The work was recorded live for a CD to be distributed world-wide. The Work will aslo be performed in St. Petersburg, Moscow, Stutgart, and Kraków, Poland. All the performances will be conducted by Helmuth Rilling. At the Festival, the soloists included: Joliane Banse, and Maria Jette, sopranos, Thomas Randle, tenor, Thomas Quasthooff, bass. According to Dr. Cindy Bylander, who traveled from Texas to attend this performance, the Credo is a very impressive composition, one of Penderecki's best pieces. It received a 10-minute standing ovation from a sold-out audience of 2,500 seats.

The festival included more of Penderecki's music: on July 5, the program included Penderecki's Flute Concerto and Sinfonietta for Strings. Beethoven's Symphony no. 7 was also on the program--all conducted by Penderecki. The concert was preceded by a talk given by the leading American Penderecki expert, Ray Robinson. In the Festival Program, the concert's title The Beethoven Tradition is emblazoned in large letters above a beautiful photograph of Penderecki conducting. Is he the heir to the great Beethoven?

Finally, the Penderecki String Quartet of Wilfried-Laurier University, Canada, offered three works by the composer in their Festival programs. On July 6 (in Eugene) and July 8 (in Florence, OR, at the Florence Event Center), the Quartet played the 2nd String Quartet by Penderecki. On July 10 (in Eugene) they played the First String Quartet and Der unterbrochene Gedanke. Other works on the program were composed by Beethoven and Haydn.


PENDERECKI FESTIVAL IN POLAND

The Kraków 2000 Festival'98 led by Artistic Director, Elżbieta Penderecka and sponsored, in part, by the European Community, is devoted to the Director's husband, Krzysztof Penderecki. This year the composer celebrates his 65th birth anniversary and the Kraków Committee declared the year 1998 "Krzysztof Penderecki Year". (While enjoying this birthday bash let us not forget that this year we have also the anniversaries of Henryk Górecki, who was born in the same year as Penderecki, i.e. in 1933, and Zygmunt Krauze, born in 1938). Scheduled for Septemer 18-October 10, 1998, the festival includes 15 concerts, and a Symposium on Penderecki's Music Theater (at the Cracow Academy of Music, September 18-20). The highlights of the festival include peformances of Penderecki's opera The Black Mask (September 20) his oratorios St. Luke's Passion(September 25), Te Deum (September 27) and The Seven Gates of Jerusalem (October 7). Three performances of Missa will be offered by the International Bachakademie Orchestra and Choir, with Helmuth Rilling, cond. The audiences will also have a chance of hearing Penderecki's Symphonies and chamber music.

The Symposium, entitled, The Music of Krzysztof Penderecki in the Context of 20th Century Theatre , will focus on four main thematic groups, including special sessions on the Devils of Loudun and the theater of moral concern, The Paradise Lost and revival of religious theater, The Black Mask and theater of extreme emotions, and Ubu Rex and theater of the absurd. The program will also include studies of Penderecki's new works. The program committee led by Prof. dr. Mieczysław Tomaszewski, includes Regina Chłopicka, Krzysztof Droba, Marek Stachowski, and Zofia Helman. Dr. Ray Robinson and Prof. Maria Anna Harley are among North-American scholars invited to participate in this conference.

POLISH MUSIC FESTIVAL, EVANSTON, ILLINOIS

The Polish Music Festival will take place between November 17 and November 24, 1998, at the Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois (Bernard Dobroski, Dean, School of Music Mariusz Smolij, Festival's Artistic Coordinator). The festival commemorates the 80th anniversary of Polish independence by presenting the musical jewels of the rich Polish culture. It will be the largest single presentation of Polish music that ever took place in the United States. During the eight days of the festival the School of Music will present nine full-length concerts featuring works of Polish composers. The event will consist of three orchestral performances presented by three different university orchestras and university chorus, one concert of the Lira Ensemble, one concert given by the university contemporary music ensemble, two evenings of chamber music and two solo recitals. Over three hundred performers will be playing and singing works by Chopin, Wieniawski, Szymanowski, Lutosławski, Penderecki, Górecki and many other distinguished Polish composers.

The festival aims to (1) introduce little known masterworks of Polish music along with better known repertoire to American audience, (2) present Polish music to the audience of Polish heritage residing in the Chicago area, (3) educate students at Northwestern University about Polish musical traditions and repertoire.

The program of the festival, in addition to the concerts, will also include lectures on Polish history, music, art and culture, open master classes presented by the guest artists devoted to the interpretation of Polish music and other events to be announced at a later date.

OTHER NEWS

The Teatr Narodowy [National Theatre], which in recent times encompassed all segments of opera, ballet, drama, Theatre Museum and the Teatr Maly [Little] under one head, has been restored to its original structure and historic names:

International organ festivals abound in Poland in the summertime. The VII International Festival of Organ and chamber Music began in June in Lezajsk (southern part of Poland) with weekly concerts each Monday until 11 September. The performers come from Canada, Switzerland, Austria, Slovakia, Belgium, Czech Republic, Germany, U.S. and Poland.

Meanwhile in Koszalin, concerts are being held twice a week as part of the XXXII Int'l Organ Festival and Musical Festival. Polish organist Roman Perucki performed in the opening concert on Wednesday, followed on Friday by Krzysztof Jakowicz and his son, Jakub, in symphonic music by Vivaldi and Mozart. At the end of the summer the musicians of the local Philharmonic will continue in chamber music concerts on Fridays at the museum, the park or in the town square. (As reported in Nowy Dziennik).

Once again violinist Kaja DANCZOWSKA is in the news! This time Richard Whitehouse (Gramophone Aug ‘98) reports on CD ACCORD ACD 026: SZYMANOWSKI Concerto Overture and the beautiful Violin Concertos no. 1 & 2. This is a Polish recording of the Warsaw National Philharmonic Orchestra. Whitehouse writes, "Why do we hear so little of Kaja Danczowska? Her spellbinding accounts of these concertos are the equal of any in the catalogue: the first sensuous and convincingly held together; the second rapt and intense, with a passionate central cadenza....An impressive release." [Note: the first performance of her playing that I heard was the Deutsche Grammophone LP of the Violin and Piano sonatas of Szymanowski and Franck, together with Krystian Zimerman. Excellent! (ww)]

Jose Maria Florenco, Jr., 36-year old Brazilian composer and conductor has been appointed the new director of the National Philharmonic in Poznan. A graduate of Minas Gerais University in Brazil, he also studied at the Julliard School of Music, NY and the Musikhochschule in Vienna. Living in Poland since 1985, he has held several important positions: director of the Teatr Wielki (Grand Theatre) in Lodz [the birthplace of Artur Rubinstein and Alexandre Tansman); music director of the National Opera in Wroclaw; general & artistic director of the Choir & Orch. Of Polish Radio & TV, Cracow; director of the National Opera of Teatr Wielki, Warsaw and music director of Teatr Wielki, Poznan.


AWARDS

Polish composer, Pawel Lukaszewski, won II Prize in the Int'l Composers Competition "Florilege Vocal de tours 1998" in France for his two Lenten motets written in 1995. 282 compositions were sent in by 192 composers representing 38 countries. The score was published by Edition Ferramontan, Frankfurt. You can hear this work on DUX CD 0251 performed by the Catholic Theology Academy Choir in Warsaw and directed by Father Kazimierz Szymonik.

Polish violin-makers made a grand sweep of prizes at the III Int'l Tchaikovsky Violin Makers Competition in Moscow recently: Wojciech Lukasz of Warsaw garnered three of them: I Prize, Gold Medal and the Golden Fan (a special award from Japan), while Bogdan Kasprzycki of Lubin won the III Prize and a Bronze Medal. In other categories (viola and bow-making) Polish makers again made their mark.

BOOKS AND PUBLICATIONS

Krystyna Tarnawska-Kaczorowska, an expert in Polish music of the twentieth century and musical semiology is the author/editor of several volumes about contemporary composers. Her list of publications includes studies of the music of Tadeusz Baird (1984), Witold Lutosławski (1985), D±browski/Kisielewski and Mycielski (1987), Konstanty Regamey (1988) and emigre composers whose absence from the musical life of the Polish People's Republic was sorely missed (1989).

Ms. Tarnawska-Kaczorowska's article "Witold Lutosławski's Third Symphony (1983): A Hermeneutic Interpretation" presented at The Maynooth International Musicological Conference in Ireland has appeared in Irish Musical Studies vol. 5 1996: 364-383 (Selected Proceedings of the conference, edited by Patrick F. Devine and Harry White, Dublin).

An overview of Polish contemporary music has been published in the Canadian Slavonic Papers / Revue canadienne des slavistes vol 39 no. 1-2, March-June 1997, 181-208. Penned by Piotr Grella-Możejko,a Polish composer based in Edmonton, Alberta, the article, entitled "Fifty Years of Freedom: Polish Music After 1945," presents a very useful survey of trends, names, dates and titles.

The Fourth Volume of Women Composers: Music Through the Ages -- an multi-volume anthology of music with scholarly essays and annotations is devoted to vocal music by composers born between 1700-1799, including Maria Szymanowska's songs. The entry on Szymanowska, authored by Maria Anna Harley (pp. 396-420) includes an overview of her life and music for voice, a detailed list of songs, and an edition of Six Romances to texts in French and Italian. The series is edited by Sylvia Glickman and Martha Furman Schleifer, and it is available from G.K. Hall, New York (1998).

Last call for super-bargain books from Garland Publishing: 1-800-627-6273.

  1. Polish Seventeenth Century Music by Delma Brough. Originally $132, now $10.
  2. Szymanowski as Post-Wagnerian. The Love Songs of Hafiz by Stephen C. Downes. Orig. $80, now $25.
  3. The Symphony in Poland. Vol. F-VII of the series "The Symphony 1720-1840" edited by Barry S. Brook. Orig. $102, now $25.
  4. Music at the Royal Court & Chapel in Poland, c. 1543-1600 by Tomasz M. M. Czepiel. Orig. $95, now $25.

Garland Publishing is now under new ownership and they are trying to reduce stock. These could be great gifts for a relative or friend who is a music student! Or even out of curiosity for yourself. Anyway, they would look very impressive on your book shelves. Three of them were published because they were considered "the best dissertations" in England.

RECENT PERFORMANCES:


DISCOGRAPHY:

Six new releases of Chopin's piano music are on the market now:

  1. HUNGAROTON 31755 (Qualiton): Gabor CSALOG, piano. "Mazurkas."
  2. ARTE NOVA 54451 (BMG): Ricardo CASTRO, p. "Nocturnes 11-21."
  3. ARABESQUE 6702 (Allegro): Garrick OHLSSON, p. "Piano Concertos; La ci Darem la Mano; Polish Fantasy; Krakowiak; Andante Spianato & Grand Polonaise."
  4. CHANDOS 9597 (Koch): Louis LORTIE, p. "Preludes" all; Andante Spianato & Grande Polonaise."
  5. MUSIC & ARTS 1006 (Koch): Juana ZAYAS, p. "Preludes" all; AS&GP; Barcarolle.
  6. EMI 69701: Nelson GOERNER, "Piano sonata no. 3; Polonaise-Fantasy; Nocturne, op. 48:1; Scherzo #4; Barcarolle; Ballade.

The CDs listed above were all reviewed in the July/August issue of the American Record Guide; they received excellent reviews with recommendation to add them to your record collection. The summary of reviews is included below:

In respect to the first recording listed, critic Jack Sullivan says that the Mazurkas played by Hungarian pianist Gabor Csalog "sound like no others." He then reviews Ricardo Castro's recording of the Nocturnes and calls it "the most hypnotic recording of Chopin Nocturnes" he has heard in some time. He describes the winner of the 1993 Leeds competition as having a "romantic singing quality and beautiful tone" and the recording is "exquisitely satisfying."

Lawrence Hansen offers the longest review of the Garrick Olhsson recording of Chopin's complete works with orchestra, comparing it with other Chopin interpreters (Pollini, Arrau, Ashkenazy, Barenboim, Perahia, Zimerman, Weissenberg, Rubinstein, Argerich, Watts, Kissin). Although the critic points out the grandeur of some of the earlier recordings, he sums up the review with a recommendation "not to pass up this one" (by Olhsson) because of "the nice, full discs, good notes and rich, plummy sound."

Hansen admires and enjoys Chopin's Piano Concerto no. 2 so much that he is tempted to suggest that "it is the first great romantic piano concerto" (Weber's concertos notwithstanding). He writes further, "when Chopin wrote these concertos in 1829, the works of the later romantic composers were decades away [...] If we look on these as the intense, youthful creations of a young genius just stepping to test the waters, they take on greater stature and innovation, [...] lightness, freshness, expressiveness, and clarity of texture in the orchestral parts that makes one regret the composer did not write more for the orchestra in his maturity."

Both Cuban-born Juana Zayas and Louis Lortie just released ALL the Preludes along with the Andante Spianato. Although praising Lortie's "brilliant technique and excellent musicianship" Harold Schoenberg recommended that you "put your money on Zayas." (ARG).

The Zayas recording was also reviewed in the Fanfare, July/August issue. Here Michael Ullman tells us more about the artist, her life and background. He also states that in her playing "she doesn't stress the composer's otherwordly spirit or his delicacy [...] she makes the best argument for the music by playing it so convincingly..." The last of these six discs is part of EMI's "Debut" series (at midprice) which offers the first recordings of a wide range of artists; choral and chamber groups, singers, etc... This time, Argentine born pianist Nelson Goerner won first prize at the Geneva competition in 1990 and "is a good musician." In reviewing this recording in American Record guide, Alexander Morin prefers the "austerity and elegance of Rubinstein or Moravec"...but there "is enough beauty in these performances to make them worth hearing."

MORE CHOPIN:

Another Chopin piano disc DECCA 460 019-2DH features Chopin's Piano Concerto no. 1. This time with Vladimir Ashkenazy at the piano. It is paired with Glazunov's "Chopiniana," a rarely heard work, which is a "questionably fulsome orchestration of a group of piano solos" by Chopin. Joan Chissell reviewed it in Gramophone (Aug ‘98).

I had previously reported on the release of OLYMPIA 629 (Allegro) recording of the Chopin Songs, op. 74 with Niewiadomski, Moniuszko and Paderewski songs performed by the mother-daughter team of Annette Celine, sop. And Felicja Blumenthal, piano. This time, reviewer Michael Mark (American Record Guide) praises the repertoire: "What lovely songs these are" and is aware that "Romantic-era Polish songs are in short supply." However, he wishes the artist would have been Polish-born Teresa Zylis-Gara, whom he remembers from a Rodolphe CD of Moniuszko songs some years ago.

KOCH DISCOVER DICD 920272. CHOPIN 19 Polish Songs; Chopin-Liszt 6 chants polonais. Claude Verhaeghe, sop; Jean Micault, piano. Reviewed in Fanfare (May/Jun ‘98) by Peter J. Rabinowitz. He compared this with Young-Hee Choi and Christophe Grasser (Quantum QM 6900) and Zofia Kilanowicz (Canyon Classics 237). In looking in the Schwann catalog I found two other renditions: Stefania Wojtowicz, sop. & Andrzej Bachleda, bar. (Polskie Nagrania PNCD 315) and Stefania Toczyska, mez. (Selene CD 9503.26). Also what sounds very interesting: "Maiden's wish" in a version for piano solo by Alexander Brailowsky.

IVORY CLASSICS 70701 (2 CD set). This is the first recording of a new series by Ivory Classics of great artists: Earl Wild in a magnificent new recording of all 21 CHOPIN Nocturnes. Last month I reported on the recording of child prodigy, Ruth Slenczynska (70802); this being the first of a series of historic recordings from the 1950s and 60s. Other recordings in this series include "Earl Wild goes to the movies" and Earl Wild playing George Gershwin.

OTHER COMPOSERS:

FHMD 9672/3 are the second and third volumes of a series called "MOSZKOWSKI's World." It is music for four hands and includes music by Moszkowski, Juon, Brahms, and Grieg. Tim Parry (Gramophone Aug ‘98) believes that "for the most part it is the pieces by Moszkowski that hold attention, their exotic shadings, graceful melodic invention and gentle humour giving them an immediate appeal." The pianists Isabel Beyer and Harvey Dagul are "not a particularly virtuosic duo and many listeners will prefer a more colourful and animated approach, or a more assertive projection of character."

CBC 1118 (Allegro) is a recording of early 20th c. Cello Sonatas (STRAUSS; BARBER; DEBUSSY; LUTOSLAWSKI & MESSIAEN). It was reviewed in American Record Guide and D. Moore praised the excellent playing (technically) of Shauna Rolston, cellist, and Bernadene Blaha, piano, but found its intensity rather unrelenting. He wished the recording to be "less overwhelming."

Lutosławski's "Metamorphoses, based on four notes from Debussy's "Pelleas and Melisande" is a 7-minute piece. (Note: Canadian-born Bernadene Blaha now resides in Los Angeles and teaches piano at the USC School of Music).

KOCH 3-7397-2H1. Karol RATHAUS. Polonaise symphonique. Piano concerto, Vision dramatique, Uriel Acosta: Suite. Donald Pirone, piano. JoAnn Falleta, cond. London SO. (I just ran across the review of Paul A. Snook in Fanfare (Mar/Apr ‘98), who devotes almost a full page to this disc. He clearly "regards Rathaus as truly valuable music of our times." It was also favorably reviewed by Richard Wigmore in Gramaphone, which I reported in our April Newsletter). Clearly a disc to have.

MD 03 (1996). Tansman/Szymanowski. This is a recording issued by the J. Hoffman Foundation and the City of Lodz, where Alexander TANSMAN was born in time, for his Centennial celebration in 1997. The disc contains Tansman's II Piano Concerto and Karol Szymanowski's IV Symphony Concertante. Performed by Marek Drewnowski, piano with the Polish Radio & TV Symphony Orchestra of Krakow. Antoni Wit, cond. (Reviewed in the Polish music journal Ruch Muzyczny).

MARSTON 52004-2 (1997, 2 discs). The Complete Josef Hofmann, Vol. 5. Solo Recordings (1935-1948). A full description of the music presented in this album of performances by the great Polish pianist during those years. In addition to the recordings from the "Golden Jubilee" concert from 1938 in Philadelphia, we find selections from unpublished RCA (1935), Victor (1935) , HMV (1935), Columbia (1940) and radio and private recordings from the 1940s. Composers: Hofmann, Chopin, Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Ladow, Weber, Liszt, Rachmaninov, Prokofiev, and Gluck/Sgambati. Highly recommended.Reviewed in the Polish music journal Ruch Muzyczny).

Next month: New recordings featuring tenor Jan Kiepura and the new Polish label Concerto Avenna! [WW]


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Copyright 1998 by the Polish Music Reference Center
Send your comments and inquiries to: polmusic@usc.edu

Newsletter Editors: Wanda Wilk and Maria Anna Harley
Formatting by M. A. Harley, 31 July 1998