Polish Music
Reference Center
Newsletter
December 1999, Vol. 5, no. 12
ISSN 1098-9188

Anniversaries * Awards * Calendar of Events * Concert Reviews
The Chopin Year * 2nd Chopin Congress * Christmas Shopping
Panufnik Days * Recent Performances * 2000 Wishes


NEWS FLASH!

ANDRZEJ PANUFNIK DAYS IN CRACOW

    The Cracow Contemporary Music Club "Malwa" and the Andrzej Panufnik Foundation in Poland are co-sponsors of the Panufnik Festival that takes place between 28 November and 5 December 1999 in Cracow. The festival includes six concerts and other events; it begins on Sunday, 28 November, with the opening of a photo exhibit by Lady Camilla Jessel-Panufnik, the late composer's wife. The exhibition is located in the foyer of the Karol Szymanowski State Philharmonic Hall. The first concert, at 8 p.m. on the same day, includes Panufnik's Violin Concerto and "Arbor Cosmica" (Sinfonietta Cracovia, with Wojciech Michniewski, cond. and Robert Kabara, violin).

On 29 November, the Contemporary Music Club "Malwa" is a site of an evening with Lady Camilla Panufnik and Roxanna Panufnik, the composer's daughter, also a talented composer, featured during the festival. The concert on Tuesday, 30 November, is scheduled at the Main Hall of the Academy of Music "Florianka" where the Chamber Orchestra of the Academy, conducted by Wojciech Czepiel presents Panufnik's Sinfonia Concertante on a program rounded up by Marek Stachowski's Sinfonietta per archi and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's Symphonyh in A major KV 201. Thursday evening (2 December) moves the proceedings of the festival to the Jewish Culture Center on Rabin Maisels street. Trio Cracovia performs piano trios by Andrzej and Roxanna Panufnik, as well as one by Artur Malawski.

    The next event highlights young Polish composers, the prize winners in the First Andrzej Panufnik Competition of Young Composers. The program includes:
    • Agata Zubel - Lumiére for percussion solo
    • Aleksander Kosciów - String Quartet No. 3
    • Jakub Sarwas Hybrid - Conjuction for double bass and trumpet
    • Adam Falkiewicz - I lock my Door upon Myself for string orchestra
    • Aleksander Gabrys - Abraxas for string orchestra
    • Tomasz Marcin Kienik - Multiobsesje for tape
    • Piotr Spoz - Sonata for violin and piano
    • Marcin Markowicz - Homeryki czyli niejasnosci for violin and piano

The chamber orchestra "Orfeusz" conducted by Jan Baryla performs a program of Andrzej Panufnik's Hommage a Chopin, Bassoon Concerto, and Jagiellonian Triptych on Saturday, 4 December. The concert includes also Roxanna Panufnik's Virtue and Joseph Haydn's Symphony no. 49, "La Passione." The Festival ends with Panufnik's Piano Concerto (performed by Ewa Poblocka), as well as his Tenth Symphony and Beethoven's CAntata for the Death of Joseph II. The Symphony Orchestra of the Academy of Music in Cracow and The Polish Radio Choir in Cracow are conducted by Wojciech Michniewski. Other soloists include Dorota Wójcik - sopran, Wlodzimierz Zalewski - bas [JH].


NEWS:

2nd INTERNATIONAL CHOPIN CONGRESS

Report by Maria Anna Harley

The scholarly highlight of the Chopin Year in Poland was, undoubtably, the 2nd International Chopin Congress (10-17 October 1999) organized by the Polish Chopin Academy under the patronage of the Ministry of Culture and Art, in cooperation with a host of musical and cultural institutions (National Library, National Philharmonic, Institute of Musicology at the Warsaw University, Institute of Art of Polish Academy of Sciences, International Federaton of Chopin Societies).


Congress organizers: Zofia Chechlinska, Mieczyslaw Tomaszewski, Irena Poniatowska
    The program committee consisted of Prof. Irena Poniatowska of the Institute of Musicology, Warsaw University, Prof. Mieczysław Tomaszewski, President of the Polish Chopin Academy and professor of music at the Academy of Music in Cracow, and Dr. Zofia Chechlińska of the Institute of the Arts, Polish Academy of Sciences (present on the photo from right to left). Other members of the program committee included Prof. Jan Ekier, Dr. Wojciech Nowik, and Prof. Jan Stęszewski. Since the Polish Radio was among the sponsors of the Congress, reports from its proceedings could be heard daily in national broadcast. The participation among sponsors of the Polish TV, Polish Airlines LOT, and over 20 other prestigious institutions, has secured a high profile of the event.

The locations of the proceedings were very impressive (halls at the Royal Castle in Warsaw, Senate Hall at the University of Warsaw) and so were the fringe events, including a one day display of Chopin manuscripts held at the National Library, several other exhibits, and wonderful concerts by world-class musicians and orchestras (Stanislaw Bunin, Murray Perahia, Janusz Olejniczak). The First congress celebrated the 100th anniversary of Chopin's death in 1949 and presented a cross-section of current research preoccupations of scholars (including their ideological biases). The 150th anniversary of Chopin's death remembered this year, provided yet another occasion for evaluating the state of Chopin research, the different schools and approaches, the new discoveries and sources.

Polish scholars have an advantage over their colleagues, in a direct contact with the composer's home country, language, and culture. This understanding of the context at times translates into masterly, in-depth studies of the composer's life and work (presentations by Tomaszewski, Poniatowska, Helman, Chechlińska, Nowik). At other times, however, it tends to "blind" the researchers by their uncritical acceptance of certain premises that are simply taken for granted in Poland, but controversial elsewhere. An example could be provided by the reception of Barbara Milewski's presentation questioning the depth of the "folkloric" dimension of Chopin's music. Of course, everyone in Poland knows that he learnt the folk song repertoire early in his childhood and that he lived with it; Milewski's hypothesis that it was the "urban" folk material that provided Chopin with his musical models, and not the "rural" and "authentically Polish" folk song, was rejected without discussion by several scholars in her audience.


Chopin Tapestry at the National Philharmonic: (L-R) Grzegorz Michalski, chair of the Chopin Year Committee, Ewa Michalska, Prof. Mieczysław Tomaszewski, Maria Anna Harley, Andrzej Chłopecki, musicologist.
    Similar problems arose after my own presentation on the reception of Chopin among women composers. I have revised my proposed subject of "From Art to Kitsch: Reflections on the Imitations of Chopin's Style" to limit the musical examples to women composers only. This limitation allowed me to introduce a wide array of feminist literature as well as to touch upon ethical issues involved when making "aesthetic" judgements, i.e. condemning music composed by women as inherently inferior due to gender differences.

I discussed the music of Pauline Viardot (among other pieces, her own "Spanish" songs that Chopin loved to hear, but that are still not known in Poland), Clara Schumann (youthful imitation that could have led to a more mature talent, but did not), Cecile Chaminade (products of a one-person music industry), and Grażyna Bacewicz (musical art works of the highest calibre). Unfortunately, several of my male colleagues tried to persuade me afterwards that I got it all wrong - it is not the society that prevented the recognition of talent and musical development of these women, but their inherent lack of compositional abilities, abilities that were, and still are, supposedly restricted to males. My current teaching duties at USC include a course on Women in Music and I have reviewed a number of such arguments with my students (similar courses are becoming a fixture in the academic curricula of North American universities). It was fascinating for me to observe that some Polish scholars express an irrational distrust of feminism and its discoveries; for deep cultural reasons, these scholars refuse to approach the subject of women in music in a scholarly fashion.

In discussing the musical achievements of Pauline Viardot, a phenomenal singer, I was not alone. To my delight, the program of the congress included a presentation by Dr. Francoise Berger of France, who have recently gained access to previously unknown letters written by Viardot and Chopin. Dr. Berger worked with new documents kept by the Viardot family and was able to cast a new light on the scope and depth of this musical friendship.


Plenary Session at the University of Warsaw, 17 October
    Obviously, the "new light" of research achievements was shining quite frequently during the congress - American, German, French, Swiss, Russian, Ukrainian, Swedish, Russian, Czech, Slovenian, Polish, Bulgarian, Japanese, Korean, Argentinian, and many other scholars spoke of their discoveries and interpretations. An interesting presentation by Maria Soltys discussed Chopin's manuscript for a version of the middle section of Polonaise in F sharp minor. This manuscript is kept in the Album of Polish Composers that contains also works by 10 other Polish creators. The album is a heirloom item in the Soltys family of musicians - well-known musical dynasty based in Lwow. Ms. Soltys is currently working on a doctoral dissertation about the history of her musical ancestors.

This brief report cannot give justice to the wealth and scope of information presented at the congress. The sessions were organized around four thematic blocks - Chopin's life and its context, his compositional aesthetics and style, links to other composers, and reception. At times two or three sessions were held simultaneously and it was very hard to decide which of the session to attend. The most important Chopin scholars chaired the sessions: Jeffrey Kallberg, Daniele Pistone, Jean-Jacques Eigeldinger, Eero Tarasti, Jan Ekier, Jim Samson, Anatole Leikin, and others. All the papers and discussions were recorded for documentary purposes and for later broadcast by the Polish radio.

    The most eminent Chopin specialists were given a chance of summing up the state of current reserach, during the plenary session that closed the proceedings of the Congress on 17 October 1999. At that time, Prof. Irena Poniatowska provided all foreign guests of the Congress with a copy of a proof of residence of Chopin's family in the Kazimierzowski palace of the Warsaw University. It was a nice touch that allowed all to see the "historical necessity" of bringing the congress to that building. It would be hard to summarize the scholars's final statements - I would only point out that, in response to my question about Chopin's "national identity" as perceived in France, I heard an emphatic answer that Chopin is there considered a French-Polish composer, "un compositeur franco-polonaise."

    While, for personal reasons, I could not attend the whole event, I thoroughly enjoyed the quality of the scholarly and organizational aspects of this unique celebration of Chopin's music. Congratulations to the organizers, all the sponsors that made this event possible, the Royal Castle, Academy of Music and University of Warsaw that provided wonderful facilities and technical support, and all the scholars that have had such a wonderful chance of presenting and disputing their views in an international forum. Finally, I should add here that Prof. Poniatowska will edit the proceedings so that the texts will become available in print.[MAH]


CONTEMPORARY STRING QUARTETS IN ENGLAND

The Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, England, will hold a contemporary string quartet festival from Thursday, January 13, to Sunday, January 16, 2000. The festival which is entitled "QuartetFest 2000" will include over 100 works by over eighty 20th century composers. The Polish composers represented in this festival include the following: Grazyna Bacewicz, Witold Lutoslawski, Karol Szymanowski and and Henryk Gorecki. [JH]



POLISH BOYCHOIRS IN ROME

Seven boychoirs from Poland will take part in the 30th International Congress of Pueri Cantores, a world-wide organization of Christian boychoirs, from December 29, 1999, to January 2, 2000. Welcoming the new millenium in the Eternal City with the Bishop of Rome, 120 boychoirs from around the world along with 30,000 Italian children will take part in a special Mass in St. Peter's Square on Sunday, January 2. The Polish choirs will come from Koszalin (The Cathedral Choir "Cantate Deo"); Poznan (The Boychoir "Consona"); Torun (The Cathedral Choir "Pueri Cantores Thorunienses"); two choirs from Szczecin (The Szczecin Nightingales and The Boychoir of Polish TV in Szczecin); Warsaw (The Archdiocesan Cathedral Boychoir "Cantores Minores") and a new boychoir from Zamosc, Schola Puerorum Zamoscensis.

Following the congress, the Warsaw choir "Cantores Minores" under the direction of Joseph Herter will take part in a special concert, marking the year 2000 as "The Year of the Child," for Pope John Paul II in the Sala Nervi in Vatican City. "Cantores Minores" is appearing on the invitation of the popular and well-known Italian Children's Choir "Piccolo Coro dell' Antoniano" from Bologna which will also sing for the Holy Father. The choirs will join forces in singing two carols, one in Italian and one in Polish. The boychoir from Warsaw will be the only Polish choir taking part in this concert.

On Sunday afternoon, January 23, 2000, at St. Anthonly of Padua Church in Warsaw , "Cantores Minores" will give the first performance in Poland of Roxanna Panufnik's "Christmas Kompot," four arrangements of Polish carols for children's chorus and orchestra. The concert is under the sponsorship of the British Council.

MUSIC IN NOWY DZIENNIK

While bemoaning the paucity of Polish recordings to be found easily at Tower Records in Manhattan, Grazyna Drabik (Nowy Dziennik) was happier to report on three major music programs performed in New York. Charles Dutoit and his Orchestre Symphonique de Montreal was praised for their "impressive performance" of Karol Szymanowski's "Stabat Mater" and the opera "King Roger." She also fully described the dual opera of Krzysztof Knittel, Polish composer of electronic music and American artist John King. The opera based on the text of German writer Heiner Muller to "Herzstuck" is sung in both Polish and English with Knittel adding a Shakespeare sonnet. The opera, "Heartpiece" is both tragic and grotesque, with both languages inerwoven until the text loses its sense and only sounds remain in fusion with guitar and percussion sounds, along with dazzling lighting effects. The music blends classical music with jazz improvisations by 3 musicians. Performers included the Dafo Quartet from Warsaw and the clear beauty of voice of Olga Pasiecznik. It was a happy "happening" for all.

Drabik's third review was that of Jan Kanty Pawluskiewicz and his oratorio, "Nieszpory ludzmierskie" (Vespers from Ludzmierz). It was conducted by the young and energetic Mariusz Smolij in the presence of the composer with soloists from Krakow and an excellent choir from Chicago prepared by Jozef Homik. Performed in the beautiful St. Bartholemew church, this was also a "magical" moment for all. [WW]

KULENTY - COMPOSER-IN-RESIDENCE

Hanna Kulenty has been recently selected as "Composer of the Year" in Holland. She will be featured as "composer-in-residence" by the Het Gelders Orkest in a series of concerts held between 10 November 1999 and 8 June 2000. The first concert included Kulenty's Violin Concerto no. 1 and Certus. The second, to be held on April 16, 19, 24 (in three cities), presents three of her works - Trio for Percussion, Third Circle for piano solo, and MM-Blues, for two pianos and two percussion, followed by Bartok's Sonata for 2 pianos and percussion. THe program of 27-28 April 2000 will include Kulenty's new piece called "Part One" and the whole series will end with her Violin Concerto no. 2 (coupled with Prokofiev's Symphony no. 6).

POLISH MUSIC AND MUSICIANS ON THE RADIO

BBC Radio 3 presented a live relay from the Wexford Festival of Moniuszko's opera, Straszny Dwor (Haunted Manor).

In Los Angeles, KUSC host Jim Svejda devoted a program to the former child prodigy Ruth Slenczynska. "Forbidden Childhood" aired on Nov. 11th. [ww]


POLKA SESSION AT PAHA MEETING

The Annual Conference of the Polish American Historical Association will be held on January 6-8 in Chicago. Of the six scheduled sessions, no. 5 is devoted to "Polka! Polka! Polka." Ann Hetzel will speak about Polka as Counter-Hegemonic Ethnic Practice," Charles Keil on "Polka Theory: Perspecitves on the Will to Party," Dick Blau on "Three Polonias: Photographs from 1970-1990". The session respondent will be Prof. Victor Greene, University of Wisonsin at Milwaukee, who is known as the author of many polka studies.



AWARDS

Gramaphone Awards for 1999 include the following given to Polish music and/or musicians:



THE CHOPIN YEAR

Fryderyk Chopin

Concerts commemorating the Chopin Year were held in various places in Poland:

In various European countries you could hear Chopin on the following occasions:

In the U.S. listeners had the chance of experience Chopin's music live during the following concerts:




INTERNET NEWS

CENTRAL EUROPE REVIEW

There is a new source of current information about Polish culture online. The first volume of online weekly news digest, Central Europe Review, includes many reports from Poland and about Polish events in the UK. The Review covers Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovenia, Poland, and other countries; the information is current and clearly presented, though Hungarian and Czech news predominates (probably because of the makeup of the editorial board). You may find this worthy addition to internet resources at:
www.ce-review.org.

UPDATE ON PIASA WEBSITE

There are new additions to the web site of the Polish Institute of Arts and Sciences in America - www.piasa.org. Interesting material has been added to the pages of Gallery, Archives, Library and the Annual Meeting. The Website has been designed and kept up by PIASA's administrative assistant Mariusz Bargielski.

POLKA ON THE NET

Mr. (Ms?) G. Ross, the webmaster of the Polkas on the Web page has invited us to visit the newly expanded site at http://www.polkaweb.com. The site caters to polka music lovers who have access to the internet, and contains interactive links for users to hear live and archived polka radio programs, broadcast in streaming audio over the internet. New additions will feature polka music in the .MP3 format so that internet users will have a centralized location to sample the various bands.


RARE POLISH BOOKS IN LONDON

For rare and out-of-print books on Poland, you may visit the website of the bookstore Eastern Books of London. The web site is located at: www.easternbooks.com. If you are in London, you may visit the bookstore itself. The address is:
Eastern Books of London
(Shop open 12 noon - 7pm seven days)
81 Replingham Road
Southfields
London SW18 5LU
England
Tel & fax: +44 181 871 0880 (from outside UK)
0181 871 0880 (from within UK)
email: info@easternbooks.com



CALENDAR OF EVENTS


RECENT PERFORMANCES:

KRZYSZTOF PENDERECKI IN LONDON

On 24 October Penderecki conducted the London Symphony Orchestra in the UK premiere of his Fifth Symphony and a performance of his Second Cello Concerto, with Rostropovitch. The Orchestra organised a "Penderecki Discovery Day" which took place prior to the evening's concert at the Barbican Centre in London. The Discovery Day was led by Prof. Adrian Thomas and consisted of a one-hour lecture by Thomas, one-hour interview with Penderecki, a masterclass with London Symphony Orchestra about the First String Quartet and the recent String Trio, as well as a pre-concert talk.

According to a review of this event published online in Central European Review (vol. 1 no. 21, 15 November 1999), an online newsletter issued in England, the Penderecki Discovery Day was a great success. Nicholas Reyland praised the insights gained from Adrian Thomas's lectures, and outlined the twists and turns in Penderecki's compositional career. He described the Fifth Symphony in the following way: "The music of Symphony No 5, like most of Penderecki's music since 1977's pivotal Violin Concerto No 1, is neo-tonal, neo-Romantic, neo-Brucknerian even. Melodies are stated and developed, recapitulations occur, harmonic momentum is sure-footed and rarely ambiguous, and the work's form is clearly derived from structural archetypes dating back to Bach." After the avant-garde noisy experimentation in the 1960s, Penderecki entered a different stylistic world, firmly connected to the European, especially Germanic tradition. His change of direction was criticized by scholars and music critics, but loved by the audiences. Reyland concludes the review with the following thought:

Given such intensely personal aims, the knowledge of which will certainly add a fascinating dimension to the study and reception of Penderecki's music over the coming years, it would almost seem churlish to chide him for his music's lack of subtlety or sophistication. Clearly, his artistic goals lie elsewhere, and only the passage of time will begin to test whether or not he can actually achieve them.



LARRY LIVINGSTON IN WARSAW

Review by Krzysztof Jan Górski

There is a very popular joke among Polish musicians that the good orchestra conductor is not the one who keeps his head in the score but the one who keeps the score in his head (i.e., in his mind). Every joke contains a "living stone of truth" - as Poles would say, i.e., there is a kernel of truth in the joke quoted here.

I would like to share with my readers some reflections from a concert - reflections as a listener, who is also a composer, a graduate from the classes of (unfortunately the late) Professors Kazimierz Sikorski and Tadeusz Paciorkiewicz at the F. Chopin Academy of Music in Warsaw. I am also writing from the position of a staff member in our Main Library - whose duties include, among other tasks, supplying the orchestra with music materials.

A concert hall is filled to capacity. The concert finished just a while ago. Long, unending applause, enthusiastic cheers like at a rock concert, standing ovation... Many flowers for the performers. And no encore! The Polish audience knows that not to play anything at a concert as an encore is the priviledge and a hallmark of the greatest artists. This is not a rock concert, neither are we in the concert hall of a great Philharmonic Orchestra. It is the concert hall of the Fryderyk Chopin Academy of Music in Warsaw, Poland. For some time, this place has become one of more significant musical life centers in Warsaw, nearly equivalent to the National Philharmonic or Radio and TV orchestras. Its profile has rapidly increased since the time when the Academy's management made it their business to transform the concertizing activity into one of the basic tasks of the Academy, and concerts in our hall (which has been included among the most beautiful halls in Poland by Jerzy Waldorff, one of the leading Polish music critics), have started to be held regularly, connected in a variety of concert series. The symphonic concerts usually take place every other week (except during the periods when examinations are held and when the students are on vacation).

Larry Livingston, conductor, music theoretician, composer, educator, and - since 1986 - the Dean of the Thornton School of Music at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, may already be considered a regular guest, almost a repertory conductor in the concert hall of the Warsaw Academy. For the first time, Larry Livingston conducted our academic orchestra in December 1992. For the second time, he was received by us in the fall season of 1997, magnificently performing with our orchestra, among others, the First Symphony by Gustav Mahler. And now, he appeared as our guest conductor for the third time: on 17 November 1999 he performed with the students' symphony orchestra two outstanding, no doubt very difficult, works of Russian composers, "Pictures from an Exhibition" by Modest Mussorgsky (in a splendid orchestration by Maurice Ravel), and the Fifth Symphony by Dmitri Shostakovich. This is the concert that I have described above.

I should add here that Larry Livingston served as a guest conductor of many orchestras around the world, not only Philharmonic orchestras, but also student ensembles. Perhaps this is how he acquired his unusual skill to conduct an orchestra composed of students, very young people, who had no (or not much) experience with playing together in an ensemble and cooperating with one another. I consider conducting such orchestras much more difficult than that of professional ensembles. Unfortunately I had no opportunity to be present at all the rehearsals, but when I was able to visit a rehearsal two days before the concert, I saw how excellently Livingston worked with the students. I suppose that his ability to persuade the students to play the music his way stemmed from his personal charm - one could even say "seductive" charm. It was fascinating to watch how he treated each student member of the orchestra as his best friend, or his own child. During the rehearsal he spoke with the students as if they were his old buddies: one word in Polish, two in English. During the breaks he invited them to the Academy's club-room for a cup of coffee. (This is highly unusual for Polish conductors who like to keep their distance from the students and avoid socializing with members of their orchestras). When conducting during the rehearsal, Livingston moved freely and spontaneously, almost like a dancer. In this way, trough his body language, he was able to very effectively convey his performing suggestions to the orchestra; the young musicians were then quick to comprehend what they were asked to do and to follow the directions of the conductor. At the concert, however, Livingston conducted quite "normally", i.e. without the excessive and expressive body motion. Nonetheless, the members of the young orchestra had learned during the rehearsals the interpretation of the music that the conductor wanted to present to the public; thanks to his teaching technique his vision of the music had become "a second nature" to them.

The concert began with the "Pictures from an Exhibition" by Modest Mussorgsky in Maurice Ravel's orchestration. From the first bars, one could hear quite full-fledged, clear, and even-tempered strains of music played - we should not forget - by a very young orchestra. The start was somewhat shy, since the musicians were not quite "getting into their stride" at the beginning of the piece (this occurs often with students' ensembles at the outset of a concert). Thus, the noble and solemn "Promenade" sounded not yet so solemnly and deeply, and the following "Gnome" was not yet so diabolic and hideous, as I would like to imagine it to myself. But as the music was going on, the color of the orchestra increased in brightness. The saxophone solo in the "Old Castle" sounded extremely well: it was especially impressive in its final episode with the softening of its last sound, through pianissimo to al niente - for a few seconds at the end almost no sounds could be heard. Then, a young trumpeter (female performer) displayed a masterly skill in the famous trumpet solo with mute that Ravel introduced in the movement called "Samuel Goldenberg and Schmuyle", which represented a conversation of a rich Samuel with the poor Schmuyle. The brass fanfare in "Catacombs" sounded very threatening, in great contrast to the delicate strings and woodwinds in the following "Cum mortuis in lingua mortua." In the two last movements, "The Hut on Fowls' Legs" and "The Great Gates of Kiev", all the musicians played as if they were enchanted!

It takes an uncommon mastery to discover so much unique charm in a composition like a Shostakovich's Symphony that constituted the next item on the program of Livingston's Warsaw concert. I do not mean here that the performance, by maing the music sound so "charming" somehow diminished the work itself and its composer - quite the contrary. It should be emphasized here that the Fifth Symphony by Shostakovich, in D minor, belongs among the composer's earlier works (written in 1937), still influenced by expressionism. From this Symphony onwards, Szostakovich developed his own style, tending to prefer monumental, epic forms. The harmonic structures in Shostakovich's symphonic works are simple, at times being even inclined to the primitive. In contrast to this line of development towards the grandiose, Larry Livingston endowed the Fifth Symphony with so much lightness and grace (as if it were a piece of French music), that there was no Russian, or rather Soviet pathos heard in it, and one could forget about the times when Shostakovich had to live and compose. The conductor made the sound of the orchestra resemble one of Prokofiev's ballets. I especially liked the second movement, kept in the tempo of a quick waltz, so that one felt like dancing it in the hall. I was also very impressed by the third movement, so subtle and delicate, just like the music from a lyrical film episode. Whatever one has to say about the work and about the composer, the performance was simply perfect.

The standing ovation I mentioned at the outset of my review was due to the musical art of Larry Livingston. After the concert, the conductor thanked the musicians in his own manner - his warm gestures and generous acknowledgement of every musician worthy of being noticed were received by the public (especially by young students) with a thunderous applause. We can only regret that there was no item of Polish music in the repertoire of that concert. We would then see how the great artist from beyond the ocean could feel our Polish music "playing in the soul and heart."

I began this review with a joke about conductors, so I will finish with a similar saying, very popular in Poland, that is appropriate here and that suggests itself to me, as to someone who listened to many, many concerts and many orchestras, among them, the orchestra of our Academy. There are no bad orchestras, the saying goes, there are only bad conductors. I am sorry if I offended those bad conductors by praising a good one.[KJG]

NOTE: The Polish version of this review has been submitted for publication in Ruch Muzyczny. Translation by the author.


PENDERECKI QUARTET AND GRELLA-MOZEJKO

Review by Peter Amsel

In the opening concert of the Espace Musique concert series the Penderecki String Quartet presented a program of music by Canadian composers (Thursday, October 28, 1999, Auditorium, National Gallery of Canada). Some people may have questioned this programming decision as being a bit extreme: concerts that are dedicated to twentieth century music already have a limited audience, but by constricting the program to composers of one country, that could be seen as downright self-destructive, or is it? I must admit that I was pleasantly surprised at the range of repertoire that was presented by the Penderecki String Quartet, works that had been composed between 1989-1999 and included a world premiere of a work by Linda Catlin Smith, a composer I was not at all familiar with.

Espace Musique must be given credit for their dedication to the presentation of quality performances of music from the twentieth century. This music is often overlooked in mainstream concert programs, or placed as token offerings in positions where they will not offend too many listeners. This is especially the case with Canadian music: too often a Canadian concert will feature a work that is specially selected for its length (shortness), rather than its quality. This is particularly evident with the situation surrounding the commissioning of new compositions from Canadian composers. If the piece is intended for an orchestra, for example, the possibility of a composer having the opportunity to express themselves in a full symphonic genre is limited greatly by the time available for rehearsing the piece, not to mention the increased commission fee. Instead, composers are usually called upon to produce shorter orchestral works, or the ubiquitous Canadian "fanfare" or "overture" which seems to pop up on many orchestral programs. This is not to say that these are not quality compositions, but they certainly do not reflect what our Canadian composers could provide if they were given the support that they are not presently receiving.

It was, therefore, with some satisfaction that, as a composer, I received an advance copy of the program notes for the opening concert of this present Espace Musique season and saw that the composers represented were not only well established Canadian composers, but some who may not be familiar to many, but are well worth investigating. There were five composers represented on the program, and five distinctively different approaches to composing for the string quartet. The best part of this was that there was practically a guarantee that the music was going to be diverse, so that if there was one piece that did not appeal to a particular taste, something else would. In fact, it was my personal experience at the concert that even a composition that I may not have particularly enjoyed from a compositional point of view was performed so well by the Penderecki String Quartet that the performance itself was something that was eminently enjoyable.

The string quartet has a long and distinguished career in music as being the musical genre through which composers have poured out their most expressive work. It is a seemingly confined space in which a composer is forced to work, which is the challenge and the ultimate test of what a composer is. From the time of Haydn, through the greatest masters of classical and romantic music including Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert and Schumann to the greatest composers of the twentieth century including BartŰk, Berg, Crumb, Schoenberg and Shostakovich the string quartet has been the vehicle for some of the most profound musical ideas to have been put to paper. To compose a string quartet can be at once an intimidating and exhilarating experience. A composer is presented with a challenge: how to express a musical idea within the confines of only four instruments. For this concert, the ambassadors of the composers, the Penderecki String Quartet, were up to the task of bringing to life the musical visions of the represented composers. [...]

The second work on the program was, in contrast, a finely crafted composition by Piotr Grella-Mozejko. His "String Quartet No. 2 'Euphonia'" was composed in 1998 and dedicated to the Penderecki String Quartet and the distinguished Polish philosopher Bohdan Pociej. The program notes indicated that the composition was based on a specially constructed twelve-tone row that allowed Grella-Mozejko to compose the quartet using tonal chords, a theme that recurs throughout the piece and various other interesting compositional devices that do not necessarily resonate with other compositions that fall into the realm of classic serialism. The Penderecki String Quartet produced an effective and convincing performance that brought out every nuance of the composition. The piece calls for extreme precision of playing and the Penderecki String Quartet were able to satisfy the requirements without making the performance sound overly technical. This performance featured some especially fine playing from violist Christine Vlajk who has an enchanting and refined sound that projected very naturally through the National Gallery Auditorium. [...]

The second half of the program opened with the world premiere of Linda Catlin Smith's String "Quartet No. 3 'Folkstone'" which was composed in 1999. This was probably the most intriguingly conceived of all the compositions represented on the program. The work gained its inspiration from a book of watercolour paintings that Smith acquired several years ago by the English painter J.M.W. Turner called "The Ideas of Folkstone Sketchbook 1845." What Turner did in his sketchbook was to create twenty-four paintings which are all variants of the views of the same area: the cliffs, the sea and the sky at Folkstone. In a sense he seemed to have tried to rediscover the essence of a specific part of the landscape in each painting, while revisiting the same spot repeatedly. Linda Catlin Smith took this principle to mind in composing her string quartet "Folkstone" which is in itself a sketchbook of twenty-four miniature movements, each an examination of the string quartet from a similar perspective. [...]

The final work of the program was given over to Canada's own master of the absurd, R. Murray Schafer. Schafer seems to have a deep desire to be recognized for being one of the most eccentric of all of Canadaís composers, having delved into the world of soundscapes, and other decidedly unconventional expressions of his musical ideas. The string quartet, however, is a genre in which R. Murray Schafer has forced himself to be far more disciplined in his musical language and, almost, the execution thereof. He has composed seven string quartets and the Penderecki String Quartet chose his "String Quartet No. 4" which was composed in 1989. The quartet is dedicated to the memory of the writer and sound poet, bp Nichol, who had created roles in some of Schafer's compositions. This is not a conventional string quartet to say the least: the first violinist begins playing off-stage at the start of the quartet and as the composition progresses gradually walks onto the stage and joins the rest of the ensemble. There is also the use of a recorded soprano voice in the final section of the quartet (The voice was provided by Kim Enns-Hildebrand).

There can be little doubt that if this quartet is to be used as evidence, this is where Schafer is at his best as a composer. The discipline that Schafer displays in this music, while still expressing a vast array of musical ideas, shows an organization of creativity and manifestation of exceptional talent. The performance was pure Schafer, right down to violinist Jeremy Bell walking out on stage wearing what looked like a silver pair of pajamas while the rest of the quartet wore black. The music relied on sound musical concepts rather than special effects and the Penderecki String Quartet was able to bring out the best that the music had to offer. Jeremy Bell's playing, starting from off-stage, was notably fine, contributing a remarkeable tone to the quartet that projected beautifully. The overall performance was very powerful and quite effective.

The Penderecki String Quartet has a number of recordings available, including two which I acquired at the concert and will be reviewing (for those of you keeping track, I have said that several times, but I do actually intend to put them out). These two recordings feature a slightly different incarnation of the Quartet, with Piotr Buczek as first violin and Yariv Aloni as the violist. The first recording is called "Polish String Quartets" and features three compositions by Krszystof Penderecki, his "String Quartet No. 1 and 2" and an absolutely overwhelming composition entitled "Der Unterbrochene Gedanke" ("The Broken Thought"). At a mere two minutes and twenty seconds it is an intense composition that the Penderecki String Quartet performs with incredible passion. This CD is worth getting just for this piece (and what I have listened to of the rest is excellent). It is on the Cala United label and is CACD88014. The second recording features the "String Quartet No. 3," Op. 94, by Benjamin Britten and the "String Quartet No. 3, in F major," Op. 73, by Dmitri Shostakovich. This recording is on the Marquis Classics label and ERAD 173.

NOTE: This is a shortened version of "For the Love of the Music" by Peter Amsel, Ottawa-based composer and writer, Copyright © 1999 AMPL Publishing. Permission is granted to distribute copies of reviews to generate interest in the arts and in the list maintained by AMPL. To subscribe or unsubscribe send request to: AMPL@Synapse.net Visit AMPL Publishing on the World Wide Web: www.synapse.net/~ampl


OTHER PERFORMANCES



LIBRARIAN'S REPORT

by Barbara Zakrzewska-Nikiporczyk

I came to Los Angeles on September 1, 1999. At the end of August the Polish Music Reference Center unexpectedly moved to a new, more spacious location at the second floor of the United University Church (the PMRC was offered this new space on a very short notice). Because of the move, the whole collection had to be reorganized and it was my task to decide about the location of various parts of the library holdings and to sort out the materials from three different sources (shelves from the previous location of the PMRC, boxes from storage, cabinets in a second storage room). The first three weeks of the month of September were spent on this activity - with the assistance of a student worker and the PMRC Director, Maria Anna Harley.

In the last week of September I started to catalog the collection of cassettes. This is an internal catalog in the ACCESS database, similar to the catalogs that I have previously prepared for the Scores, CDs, and LPs held at the PMRC. I organized the entire collection of cassettes (about 940) in the following order:

Until the end of November I entered into the database ACCESS the contents of the following (I also labeled the cassettes): 677 cassettes (in alphabetic order till PTASZYNSKA) containing about 3.000 records of separate compositions of which 2.207 I typed in from the beginning.

Incidentally, the number of cassettes and LP recordings is almost the same; this, however, does not mean that the music on the cassettes is the same as on the LP recordings. There are many compositions recorded on cassettes that are not available on analog LPs. After the completion of the cataloging, it will be possible to check which compositions from LP records had not been recorded on cassettes and to complete the cassette duplicates (to preserve LPs in an intact state).

In order to complete this project, I will receive an additional grant from the Ars Musicae Poloniae Foundation of Los Angeles (Diane Wilk, President) for another period of three months. I will return to Los Angeles in the Winter of 2000 to work on a continuation of this project.

During this period I was continuing my collaboration with two American bibliographic centers: RILM (Repertoire International de la Literature Musicale, at the City University of New York) and RIPM (Repertoire International de la Presse Musicale, Center for Studies in Nineteenth Century Music, University of Maryland, College Park). This collaboration was possible thanks to computer technology (e-mails and internet). I'm looking forward towards completing the cassette cataloging project in the spring of 2000. [BZN]


ANNIVERSARIES:

Born this month:

Died this month:

FROM THE INTERNET MAILBOX:

My name is Marek Rus. I conduct a Polish choir at the St. Constance Parish in Chicago. When I have some free time I surf the net, since I am curious about news from the world. The mass media and communication means via the Internet progress faster and faster; certain services offer even the purchase of music scores through the internet, other services offer even downloadable scores for free. I am worried that despite tens of thousands of compositions made available by these companies there is not a word about Polish music. As if it did not exist at all! When I ask about Wacław of Szamotuły, when I ask about Mikołaj Zieleński, or about Mikołaj Gomółka, or other eminent Polish composers, the answer is silence. Perhaps they just think who are these people? I should not even mention the main Polish contemporary composers who write choral music (in Latin), like Andrzej Koszewski or Swider. International music companies are familiar with the name of Górecki, but this is due only to him and his music, and not to the Polish promotional efforts. Many of the Internet companies sell music scores, however, until now, PWM has not proposed to cooperate with them in this area.

Times are changing and it is time to move forward and to use new means in reaching customers. How can an American choral conductor know Polish repertoire? This repertoire does not even require the knowledge of Polish language, since many pieces are in Latin. It is not possible if one cannot see a fragment of the score, or listen to an excerpt of a recording. Here are some examples of music sites that you may visit and explore:

In the internet catalog, http://www.handlo.com/scores/handcat.pdf among 1269 compositions for choir I have not found a single piece by a Polish composer. In order to show that one may promote one's own culture, I would like to point out that this catalog included numerous pieces by Russian composers, such as Bortnianski or Czesnakow, not to mention Tchaikovsky, Borodin, or Rachmaninov. I do not know what to think about it. Is there noone who cares about the promotion of this repertoire? I call upon Polish publishers, especially PWM, to do something about it. We are not a Third World in music! Our heritage should be known and made available to all.

With best regards, Marek Rus.


2000 WISHES

    The staff of the Polish Music Reference Center wishes all Polish musicians, composers, music historians and lovers of Polish music to have more occasions and opportunities to hear and perform this music in the new year and the new Millennium (if you start counting with 2000...). In 1999 we enjoyed a world-wide recognition of the mastery of Fryderyk Chopin and an additional focus on Grazyna Bacewicz. For the year 2000, we wish Polish composers and performing artists even more recognition nationally and internationally that their work deeply deserves. Let the next year be celebrated as a true Year of Polish Music!

    Maria Anna Harley, Director,
    with Wanda Wilk, Barbara Zakrzewska-Nikiporczyk,
    student assistants Magda Bedernik, Ada Lis, Marzena Wolny, Grazyna Piotrowska

CHRISTMAS SHOPPING LIST (from 1998)

compiled by Wanda Wilk

Why not give a gift of music to your family and friends? Here is a list of companies specializing in Polish gifts and music. You can see some of their products online and order from your computer; or visit them if you live nearby or send them a check. You will find a variety of items: books (in Polish and English) in all categories; music CDs and CD Roms; videos (documentaries, old films, new films, language, travel, cooking in Polish and English); and miscellaneous products (figurines, mugs, posters, etc.). We welcome any additions we have missed.

POLONIA BOOKSTORE

4738 North Milwaukee Ave.
Chicago, IL 60630-3614
(773) 481-6968
http: www.polonia.com
e-mail: books@polonia.com

Large selection of Christmas carols on CDs. Here is one that we received an inquiry about last year: Teresa Zylis-Gara, Wieslaw Ochman and the Boy's and Men's Choir of the State Philharmonic in Poznana and Chamber Orchestra of Polish Radio and TV in Poznan. ECD 025 $15.95.

Another favourite: A Polish Christmas Eve. Traditions and Recipes, Decorations and Song by Rev. Czeslaw M. Krysa. CWB Press, Lewiston, NY. 270 pages richly illustrated in black and white. $24.95. Hand-painted Christmas ornaments from Poland at $11 and $12 each. Christmas Videos at $24.95 each. Carols on audio-cassettes at $7.50 each. Early music CDs: Baroque Music in Poland and Music in Early Poland at $15.95 each.


PTvN POLISH BOOKSTORE

135 A India Street
Brooklyn, NY 11222
(800) 277-0407
http://polbook.com
e-mail: sales@polbook.com

Much the same items as above (in Chicago). However, in this catalog, I found a CD-ROM devoted to the history of rock music in Poland: Published by Optimus Pascal in 1998 "Rock w Polsce" is priced at $89.90.

Also CD-ROMS on architecture and art in Poland (National museum; Royal castle & Wawel); bilingual English-Polish interactive educational fairy tales for kids over 4 @ $49.90 (three of them) and the new 6-volume Encyclopedia published by PWN at a reduced price of $399.90.


POLISH HERITAGE SQUARE/POLISH AMERICAN JOURNAL

1275 Harlem Road
Buffalo, NY 14206
(800) 422-1275
http://www.polamjournal.com/ph-square
e-mail: polamjournal@aol.com

Books and recordings in Polish and English on various topics.

New: Polish Weddings, Customs & Traditions by Sophie Knab. $19.95, who also wrote on Polish Herbs, Flowers & Folk medicine and Polish Customs, Traditions & Folklore. Polish Heritage Calendars; Music on tapes or CDs: Polkas for children, Polish Picnic Favorites, Assumption BVM Parish tapes for various religious occasions, PAJ Polish Village Christmas, etc...

Also available here: packages of "Oplateks" the Polish Christmas wafers. Small: 5/$2; Large: 5/$5.00 and the Limited edition of a Christmas ornament "Bog sie rodzi" at $17.50.


JANINA'S POLKAS & POLISH GIFTS

1317 Sylvania Ave.
Toledo, OH 43612
(419) 478-2438

CDs, Tapes, T-shirts, jewelry and Polish heritage items.

POLISH ART CENTER

9539 Joseph Campau
Hamtramck, MI
(313) 874-2242

Polish blue 7 white stoneware; Polish & Ukrainian egg decorating supplies; wycinanki (paper cutouts); Polish Eagle door knockers; books on folk customs, history, cooking, etc...


POLISH AMERICAN CULTURAL CENTER

308 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19106
(215) 922-1700
www.polishamericancentr.org

This is a museum featuring Polish history and culture that also operates a gift shop of Polish heritage items.


POLART

4583 Clark Road, Suite B
Sarasota, FL 34233-3423
(800) 278-9393
http://www.polart.com
e-mail:polart@polart.com

This company puts out one of the most colorful catalogs displaying Polish heritage gift items (t-shirts, mugs, maps, flags, caps, stick-on labels, etc..), videos, CD's, tapes and books.

Unique: Christmas greeting cars with various Polish language greetings and all-occasion greeting cards in sets of 8. Puzzles of the Polish Eagle, Map of Poland and Polish Dancers. In the classical music CD section, I found: Kiepura, Ochman, Organ music (7 different recordings), Moniuszko songs and operas (8), Complete works of Chopin (set of 20 CDs), Polish software, etc...


BROWN'S MUSIC

Highway 15 South
2208 S. Broadway
New Ulm, MN 56073
(507) 354-2615
http://www.newulmtel.net/~musicbrn

Polka music and instruments and sound equipment, especially concertinas and accordions. Sales and repair.


THE POLKA CONNECTION

P.O. Box 7075
Yankton, SD 57078
(605) 668-0935
http://www.polkas.com/stastny


THE POLISH ARTS & CULTURE FOUNDATION

1290 Sutter St.
San Francisco, CA 94109
(415) 474-7070
http://www.slip.net/dubraw/pacf

Gift shop has many Polish heritage items. Look for the books on the Polish connection in California prepared by founder Wanda Tomczykowska.


MUSIC from POLAND

Poland Import Export
4216 Bettina Ave.
San Mateo, CA 94403
(650) 3341-7359
e-mail: Polmusic@aol.com
http://www.iyp.org/music/html

Proprietor Edmund Lewandowski says that he has "almost 2,000 titles of all kinds of music from Poland: multimedia editions, classical, oldies, disco, folk, jazz, religious, Christmas carols - everything you wish."


NOWY DZIENNIK BOOK STORE

333 West 38th St.
New York, NY 10018
(212) 594-2266
e-mail: listy@dziennik.com

The Kosciuszko Foundation Bookstore has just merged with the Nowy Dziennik Bookstore. Books in Polish and English, CDs, videos and tapes. The Kosciuszko Foundation had our Polish Music History Series for sale along with the compact disc that the PMRC released several years ago.


POLSKIE NAGRANIA

ul. Okaryny 1
02-787 Warszawa, Poland
011-68-22- 644-72-90
Fax: 011-48-22-644-94-87
e-mail: handel@polskienagrania.com.pl

This is the official recording company of Poland that used the MUZA label on the old LP records. Now they use PNCD on most of their CDs, and the tapes use the CK label. E-mail them for their latest catalog.


PWM EDITIONS

al. Krasinskiego 11a
31-111 Krakow, Poland
011-48-12-422-70-44
Fax: 011-48-12-422-01-74
http://www.pwm.com.pl

The official music publishers in Poland. This is the only place to rent orchestral parts for music by Polish composers (except for the major ones with British, German or American composers like Lutoslawski, Gorecki, Panufnik, Penderecki, etc...). Write to them for their latest catalogs.


POLYGRAM POLSKA SP. Z0O

ul. Jagiellonska 78
03-301 Warsaw, Poland
011-48-22-675-7860
e-mail: polygram@wonet.com.pl

This is a new recording company operating under the ACCORD label. E-mail them for their catalog.


Finally, for a restored video of the Mazowsze Folk Song & Dance Ensemble write to: WGBH Boston Video, P.O. Box 64619, St. Paul, MN 55164. $54.95.


Back to PMRC Home Page PMRC Newsletters

Copyright 1999 by the Polish Music Reference Center
Send your comments and inquiries to: polmusic@usc.edu

Newsletter Editors: Wanda Wilk and Maria Anna Harley
Contributors: JH - Joseph Herter, KJG - Krzysztof Jan Gorski,
WW - Wanda Wilk, BZN - Barbara Zakrzewska-Nikiporczyk
Formatting by M. A. Harley, 30 November 1999