|Polish Music Newsletter|
Nothing can ever happen twice
An excerpt from “Nic dwa razy się nie zdarza” by Wisława Szymborska
The world’s newspapers have been filled with tributes to Wisława Szymborska (1923-2012), the Nobel Prize-winning poet who “died peacefully in her sleep” on February 1 at the age of 88, according to her assistant Michał Rusinek (PAP). Despite a relatively small published output, Szymborska’s quirky yet movingly direct poetry has spoken to the hearts of many Poles since she had published her first poem in the daily Dziennik Polski in 1945. Private and contemplative by nature, she spent her life in Kraków working quietly as a poignant commentator on the human condition—one whom President Bronisław Komorowski called Poland’s “guardian spirit.”
The reclusive poet was thrust briefly into the international limelight when she became the laureate of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1996; however her body of work remained known only to a limited audience outside her native country. This may be due to the very linguistic acrobatics that make Szymborska’s poems so uniquely appealing. According to the New York Times in consultation with Literature professor and Szymborska translator, Dr. Clare Cavanagh, “her poems were clear in topic and language, but her playfulness and tendency to invent words made her work hard to translate.” Despite the challenges, however, Dr. Cavanaugh was successful in bringing Szymborska’s poetry into the English speaking world. As PMC Director Marek Zebrowski commented in his 1998 review of the Cavanaugh-Baranczak translation of Szymborska’s Poems New and Collected 1957-1997, “Szymborska’s poetic voice and spirit have reasserted themselves in English with an astonishing and idiomatic vitality.” (The Boston Book Review)
According to the Associated Press, “the Nobel award committee called her the ‘Mozart of poetry,’ a woman who mixed the elegance of language with ‘the fury of Beethoven’ and tackled serious subjects with humor.” The committee’s reference to two of history’s greatest composers hints not only at the sometimes dichotomous nature of her artistic voice, but also the influence that Szymborska’s poetry has had upon the musical world, both in Poland and abroad.
On the day that Szymborska was buried (Feb. 9, 2012), the well-known tune of Andrzej Mundkowski’s setting of her poem “Nic dwa razy się nie zdarza” [Nothing Can Ever Happen Twice, or "Nothing Twice"] rang out from the tower of St. Mary’s Basilica into the busy central square of old town Kraków. According to a PAP source, this was the first time ever that the Basilica’s trumpeter had played something other than the famous “Hejnał” during his hourly routine, indicating the historical significance of a death Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski called on Twitter an "irreparable loss to Poland's culture."
Mundkowski’s 1965 setting of “Nic dwa razy się nie zdarza,” which won him an award from the Minister of Arts and Culture in the same year, was written for and performed by his wife, Łucja Prus. The popularity of the song catapulted Szymborska’s poetry into Poland’s cultural awareness. A cover of this same song became an even greater hit 1994 when it was performed by rock singer Kora with the group Maanam. Mundkowski also wrote a lesser known song to the text of Szymborska’s poem “Jawność” [Disclosure].
Another celebrated musical setting of Szymborska’s poetry was composed by Zbigniew Preisner, who is best known for his collaborations with one of Poland’s most renowned film directors, Krzysztof Kieślowski. Preisner wrote a haunting baritone ballad to the text of Szymborska’s poem "Miłość od pierwszego wejrzenia" [Love At First Sight] for Rouge (1994), the third film in Kieślowski’s visually stunning trilogy Trois couleurs. In fact, the entire movie is said to have been inspired by this poem. A full version of the song is available on Youtube.com.
Krzesimir Dębski, a prolific and popular film composer, has also been inspired by Szymborska’s lines. In 1997, Dębski wrote Muzyka do wierszy Wislawy Szymborskiej [Music to the Verses of Wisława Szymborska], a group of seven songs for soprano, tenor, female choir and orchestra. Although best known for his cinema and television scores, this set of songs is part of Dębski’s impressive repertoire of orchestral music for the concert stage.
In 2010, a four-disc set dedicated to the life and works of Wisława Szymborska was released by Agora SA. The first two discs contain rare recordings of Szymborska reading from two volumes of her poetry, and the fourth disc features the documentary Chwilami życie bywa znośne - przewrotny portret Wisławy Szymborskiej [Sometimes Life is Bearable – A Wicked Portrait of Wisława Szymborska], produced by Katarzyna Kolenda-Zaleska. The third disc is a collection of songs set to Szymborska’s verses—these new and archival arrangements are sung by Hanna Banaszak, Dorota Miśkiewicz, Łucja Prus, Michał Bajor, Stanisław Soyka, Grzegorz Turnau, Maanam and Skaldowie.
Szymborska’s influence has not been confined to musicians in Poland, however, nor to songs for the voice. American composer and USC Thornton School of Music Masters’ degree candidate Elizabeth Ogonek composed her Szymborska Poems for flute and piano in 2009. According to the composer, the movements of this sonata-like work take their inspiration, and names, from her three favorite Szymborska poems: I. Greeting the Supersonics, II. Under One Small Star, III. Miracle Fair. Premiered on October 31, 2009 in Bloomington, IN, Szymborska Poems was awarded the 2010 Dean's Prize at Indiana University, where the composer was pursuing her Bachelors’ degree at the time. In addition to her numerous other awards and acknowledgements, Ogonek is most recently the recipient of a prestigious 2012 Marshall Scholarship, with which she will attend the Guildhall School of Music and Drama for composition studies.
Although once the reluctant recipient of international attention, it is clear that Szymborska’s work will continue to penetrate the mind and inspire the spirit throughout the world for years to come. Often the explorer of death’s themes, the poet is now at rest, but her words live on in her own verses and the music of those who celebrate her art.
TABĘCKI/YEAR OF MEN PREMIERE
On January 29, the Poznań Opera presented the world premiere of Hadrian Filip Tabęcki’s Dzień Świra [Day of the Wacko], based on a movie script by Marek Koterski. This work inaugurated the cycle of premieres known officially as the “Year of Men,” celebrated on the venerable stage of Poznań’s Teatr Wielki. The seven personalities of the lead character are performed by seven different actors; thus, the composer’s task was to delineate musically the variety of characters and their particular neuroses, reflecting multiple personalities of the hapless hero. This opera, whilst continuing traditions of Polish avant-garde musical dramas, is also a spectacle with a strong social commentary on contemporary society.
The latest work by Maciej Zieliński, his Symphony No. 5, had its World Premiere on January 29 at the Lutosławski Studio Concert Hall in Warsaw. This first performance of the large-scale, 40-minute work, was given by the Polish Radio Orchestra under the baton of Łukasz Borowicz.
The Polish Radio Orchestra commissioned the work from the young composer, who is currently serving as the Orchestra’s Composer in Residence for this season. The commissioning of Zieliński’s Fifth was made possible with the financial support from the Institute of Music and Dance that underwrites collaborative efforts between composers and orchestras.
Other items on the program included Zygmunt Noskowski’s rarely perfomed Fantazja góralska [The Highlanders’ Fantasy] and Mieczysław Karłowicz’s Violin Concerto, Op. 8, with soloist Bartłomiej Nizioł.
WARSAW VILLAGE BAND PERFORMS PREMIERE
The Chutzpah! 2012 Festival in Vancouver, BC opens with an extraordinary event on February 11: the world premiere of a musical, A Blessing on the Moon - The Colour of Poison Berries, with music by Andy Teirstein, libretto by Andy Teirstein and Joseph Skibell and featuring the Warsaw Village Band. The premiere will be previewed at the (le) poisson rouge theater on February 6.
This new music-theatre experience combines imaginative and physical theatricality with a fiery, folk-infused score that brings Joseph Skibell’s daring and original story, A Blessing on the Moon, to life. Andy Teirstein’s composition joins with the glorious timbres and galloping percussion of the Warsaw Village Band and a cast of five accomplished singer/actors under the spell of Jim Calder’s direction.
A Blessing on the Moon; The Colour of Poison Berries is the surreal and magical tale of Chaim Skibelski. It follows Chaim’s wandering search for an afterlife following his violent death at the hands of a German soldier in wartime Poland. On his travels, he is sometimes accompanied by his Rabbi who is now a crow. This mystical story is a haunting evocation of the Polish Holocaust and a journey towards peace and wisdom. The music, which ranges from Polish folk/roots to cabaret, adds nuance to every line spoken—and combines with movement to beautifully explore the edges of magic realism contained in the words of this epic narrative.
Andy Teirstein’s work is inspired by a rich and diverse range of folk and roots music, and is described by The New York Times and Village Voice as “magical,” “ingenious,” and “superbly crafted.” The six-member Warsaw Village Band is considered among the most important and accomplished musical ambassadors of European culture today. Their modern brand of traditional folk music has garnered BBC Radio Awards and a Grammy nomination, among a raft of other accolades. Joseph Skibell’s 1997 debut novel A Blessing on the Moon was named one of the year’s best by Publisher’s Weekly, Le Monde and Amazon.com. He has received awards from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as the Sami Rohr Award in Jewish Literature. His work has been translated into many languages, most recently Ido and Chinese.
POLISH COMPOSERS IN SIKORSKI MAGAZINE
Sikorski Music Publishers [Sikorski Musikverlage] has devoted the latest issue of its Sikorski Magazine—entitled “Poland‘s Moderns” [Polens Moderne] (No. 1/2012)—to the exploration of three modern Polish composers: Witold Lutosławski, Henryk Mikołaj Górecki, and Krzysztof Meyer. These three were chosen not only for their leading role in contemporary Polish music, but also because the year 2013 brings several important birthday anniversaries for each of them: Lutosławski’s 100th, Górecki’s 80th, and Meyer’s 70th. The issue also discusses the recent re-discovery of the music of Mieczysław Weinberg.
Editors Dagmar Sikorski and Dr. Axel Sikorski begin the issue with the following introduction:
Other interesting subjects included in the latest issue are "Generations of Contemporary German Composers" represented by Jörn Arnecke, Johannes Harneit, Wolfgang von Schweinitz and Peter Ruzicka; "The Operas of Alfred Schnittke"; Sergei Prokofiev's opera War and Peace at the Cologne Opera; and the one-act opera Rothschild's Violin by Benjamin Fleischmann that was completed by Dmitri Shostakovich after Fleischmann was killed in WWII.
The entire issue, written in German with English translations at the back, can be downloaded in PDF form at media.sikorski.de.
ICSM MUSIC DAYS IN WROCŁAW – CALL FOR SCORES
The ISCM World Music Days 2014 and the 2014 General Assembly of the International Society for Contemporary Music [ISCM] will take place in Wrocław, Poland from October 3-12, 2014. In preparation for this prestigious event, the hosts—ISCM Polish Section - Polish Society for Contemporary Music—have put out a Call for Scores with a deadline of June 30, 2012.
WROCŁAW PHILHARMONIC ORCHESTRA TOUR
The North American tour of the Wrocław Philharmonic Orchestra begins February 8 in Florida and continues through February 26 in Arizona. The tour will be conducted by the Wrocław Philharmonic's Artistic Director, Jacek Kaspszyk, and will feature a program that includes Dvorák's Symphony No. 7. For nearly all of the tour dates, the orchestra will be joined by renowned pianist and winner of the 1970 Chopin Competition, Garrick Ohlsson, except for February 15-17, when they will feature cello soloist Maciej Młodawski.
SMOLIJ WITH SINFONIA IUVENTUS
On February 2, the Polish Sinfonia Iuventus Orchestra will perform a concert of works by Feliks Ignacy Dobrzyński with conductor Mariusz Smolij. The concert will take place in the Witold Lutosławski Concert Studio of Polish Radio in Warsaw. The program will include Dobrzyński’s Symphony No. 1 in B-flat major, op. 11 and Symphony No. 2 in C minor “Charakterystyczna” , op. 15.
Sinfonia Iuventus is an orchestra created out of the most talented graduates of all music schools in Poland. The goal is to give each musician the opportunity to make his or her artistic debut, and to ensure continuing professional education with outstanding artistic experts
MAZOWSZE ON STRIKE
According to the external service of Polish Radio:
NEW ARTISTIC DIRECTOR FOR NOSPR
As of September 1, 2012, German conductor Alexander Liebreich will become the new Artistic Director and Principal Conductor of the National Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra [NOSPR] in Katowice. Liebreich has been hailed by the press as “Munich's most exciting conductor” and a “pioneer in a new generation of conductors,” for whom the borderline between large symphony orchestras and smaller, more flexible ensembles comes just as naturally as the synthesis of artistic mastery and social responsibility. He will assume a four year contract with NOSPR, an ensemble he has worked with many times in the past.
NEW FROM PWM
MISTRZOWIE I PRZYJACIELE
A new book by Krzysztof Meyer, entitled Mistrzowie i przyjaciele [Masters and Friends], was recently published by PWM. One of the leading Polish composers today, Meyer is also a pianist and pedagogue who has deep connections with the city of Kraków and its musical circles. He is also a prolific author of books, including an excellent biography of Witold Lutosławski, also published by PWM.
In his latest book, Meyer sketches portraits of persons who influenced his life as a musician. They include his teachers, friends, and acquaintances. Such a direct and somewhat informal approach allows Meyer to depict a great variety of fascinating characters by using short and incisive strokes of his pen. They include well-known musicians like Eugenia Umińska or Stanisław Wiechowicz, and lesser-known ones like his piano teacher, Ms. Ekier, and other Kraków musicians. Meyer’s reminiscences are written with great deal of warmth and charm, showing his circle of teachers and friends with all their personality quirks, which makes them alive and vivid for the reader.
The book is available on the PWM website and at PWM bookstores.
Paweł Łukaszewski is featured on the cover of the latest issue [No. 2(17) from December 2011] of Kwarta Magazine—the Polish-language quarterly music publication of PWM. Łukaszewski is currently composer-in-residence for Warsaw National Philharmonic Orchestra and was featured as the 2011 Paderewski Lecturer at USC last October. The magazine also contains articles about latest books published by PWM including a title about Prof. Mieczysław Tomaszewski, a long-time Editor-in-Chief at PWM who recently celebrated his 90th birthday.
Full issues of Kwarta, as well as the English-language version Quarta, are available at issuu.com
PWM ENCYCLOPEDIA – COMPLETE!
The 12th and last volume of the PWM Music Encyclopedia—containing almost 10 thousand entries, more than 400 authors, and five 200 illustrations in its complete set—will go on sale on February 12. Edited by Elżbieta Dziębowska, it is the long-awaited completion of a series that began to appear in print over three decades ago. The last volume comes in a hardcover edition and contains entries from the letter W to Ż.
The final volume or the complete set can be purchased on the PWM website and at PWM bookstores.
MUSICIANS’ HOME OPEN HOUSE
With construction of the Polish Senior Musicians’ Home largely completed, the Foundation running the project has invited the public to open houses on February 4 and 11. The Home—designed to resemble a historic Polish manor—is located in the village of Kąty near Góra Kalwaria. It has 29 rooms capable of accommodating up to 50 seniors as well as recreation rooms, a clubroom and a library that will also serve as a musical salon and a venue for concerts.
Loneliness is often cited as one of the great problems of aging musicians. Such a home will not only provide its residents with a place to live comfortably but also enable them to continue their professional activities to the extent possible. Workshops and lectures for the local population will be provided by those residing in the Musicians’ Home, as well as concerts and other cultural events.
MONSIEUR CHOPIN RETURNS TO L.A.& DISCOUNT!
World-renowned performer Hershey Felder returns to The Pasadena Playhouse for a limited engagement from February 28 - April 7, 2012, and the Playhouse is offering a special discount for PMC patrons and affiliates: 10% off of any (or all three) of the upcoming Hershey Felder productions, using code HEB10 when ordering.
Two of Felder's "Composer Collection" hit shows: MONSIEUR CHOPIN (Feb. 28 – March 7) and MAESTRO: LEONARD BERNSTEIN (March 10 – 18) will make their Playhouse debuts, followed by the World Premiere of LINCOLN - AN AMERICAN STORY. All three productions will star Hershey Felder and are directed by long-time collaborator Joel Zwick.
With MONSIEUR CHOPIN, audiences are invited to a private piano lesson that actually took place in the opulent Parisian salon of the Polish composer. In MAESTRO: LEONARD BERNSTEIN, Felder unfolds a story spanning the entire 20th century illustrating how Bernstein broke through every artistic ceiling possible to become the world's musical ambassador. And in his newest production, LINCOLN - AN AMERICAN STORY, the final night in Abraham Lincoln's life is told through the eyes of Dr. Charles Leale, the young medical student who was in attendance on the evening of that fateful performance at Ford's Theatre in Washington, D.C., and found himself at the center of American history as he unfolds his story of tending to Lincoln in his final hours. LINCOLN - AN AMERICAN STORY will be performed in front of a 45-piece symphony orchestra for this special engagement.
KARKOWSKI @ L.A.'S REDCAT
The CalArts Center for Experiments in Art, Information and Technology (CEAIT) two-day festival begins on February 10 at REDCAT in downtown Los Angeles, with an eclectic lineup of sound artists that cross and blend genres. Co-curated by Mark Trayle and Ulrich Krieger, both faculty members of The Herb Alpert School of Music at CalArts, the festival promises to bring music from “abstract reveries to flat-out sonic raucousness” to the listening audience.
During this year's edition, vintage electronics share a stage with the newest sonic technology when acclaimed Dutch composer Thomas Ankersmit highlights at CEAIT. Friday is “Noise Night” featuring L.A.’s own Damion Romero and the pairing of noise pioneers Zbigniew Karkowski and Xopher Davidson. “Ambient Night” on Saturday features the debut of a new work by Ankersmit created expressly for the historic Serge analogue modular synthesizer, originally developed by Serge Tcherepnin at CalArts in the 1970s. Ankersmit, known for abstract, intensely focused electroacoustic work using hyper-kinetic synth and computer improvisation, kicks off a program that also features work by zerfall_gebiete, the duo of electronic ambient soundscape veterans Thomas Köner and Ulrich Krieger.
SZYMANOWSKI QTET IN BEVERLY HILLS
Curated by Eric Wilson, the Chamber Music Series at the Ace Gallery in Beverly Hills presents some of the world's best chamber music ensembles to small audiences in an intimate and beautiful setting. On Saturday, February 18, Ace Gallery will present the Warsaw-based Szymanowski Quartet: Andrej Bielow and Grzegorz Kotów - violins, Vladimir Mykytka - viola, and Marcin Sieniawski - cello.Founded in Warsaw in 1995, the Szymanowski Quartet has developed into one of the most exceptional international string quartets of its generation. Their sophisticated programs present a perfect balance between intellect and passion, characteristics with which the Szymanowski Quartet captivates its audiences at prestigious festivals and concert halls in Europe, the United States, Asia, Australia and South America.The Quartet's extraordinarily high standard has been confirmed by numerous awards and distinctions.
NEW BALLET TO LUTOSŁAWSKI’S MUSIC
The world premiere of the ballet Chapters, choreographed by Krzysztof Pastor to the music of Lutosławski’s Fourth Symphony, will be given on February 15, 2012 in Amsterdam’s Het Muziektheater. The Dutch National Ballet [Het Nationale Ballet] will perform the work during Present/s 1, the first 2-day section of its festival of new works celebrating fifty years of its artistic activities. Chapters will be performed on four further occasions (February 18, 22, and 25 as well as March 2).
Keso Dekker, a noted costume designer, and light designer Bert Dalhuysen will collaborate with Mr. Pastor in staging the premiere. Lutosławski’s music will be performed by the Holland Symfonia led by Matthew Rowe.
Krzysztof Pastor has already adapted Lutosławski’s music to ballet in the past, collaborating with Het Nationale Ballet on a ballet Visions at Dusk in 2007, which utilized Lutosławski’s scores of Dance Preludes, Five Folksongs, and his Little Suite.
ZDUNIK PLAYS PENDERECKI
Winner of the 2010 “Phonographic Debut of the Year” Fryderyk Award, cellist Marcin Zdunik will perform Krzysztof Penderecki’s Second Cello Concerto with the Kraków Philharmonic on February 17 and 18. The concert, led by maestro Mario Kosik will also feature works by Ján Cikker and Antonin Dvořak. Mr. Zdunik will then travel to Bratislava where, between February 23 and March 2, he is scheduled to record Penderecki’s and Elgar’s cello concertos with the Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Artistic Director Mr. Kosik.
BACZEWSKA ON MADISON AVE.
On Sunday, February 12, Magdalena Baczewska will perform at the Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church in New York City. The program will include: William Byrd: Pavane and The Earle of Salisbury; Jean-Philippe Rameau: Excerpts from Pièces de Clavecin (1724); Domenico Scarlatti: Sonata in D minor, L. 413 and Sonata in D major, L. 14; Franz Liszt: Ave Verum, S. 44 (arr. Mozart), Ave Maria, S. 182, Ave Maria, S. 183/2 (arr. Arcadelt), Alleluia, S. 183/1; Frédéric Chopin: Nocturne in D-flat, Op. 27, No. 2, Three Mazurkas (Op. 59, No. 1 & 2; Op. 67, No. 2), and Ballade No. 3 in A-flat major, Op. 47.
PROJECT GRECHUTA IN CONCERT
The Plateau Ensemble and their guests will make a two-week tour of the US and Canada, promoting their fourth album, Project Grechuta. Their concerts will continue a highly successful tour of over 40 concerts across Poland last fall. During their North American tour the ensemble will visit Toronto, Chicago, New York and also stop in Florida. Guest artists include Małgorzata Ostrowska, Marek Jackowski, Adam Nowak, and Piotr Cugowski.
They will perform new arrangements of songs by the legendary Marek Grechuta. The CD album Projekt Grechuta was published in March of 2011 to excellent reviews and was a top-selling album for several weeks. Marek Grechuta’s widow, Danuta, is the honorary patron of the concert tour and the CD recording.
MŁODA POLSKA WINNERS
Winners of the 2012 “Młoda Polska” stipends, awarded by the Polish Ministry of Culture and National Heritage, were announced on February 7. This program is open to artists under 35 years of age, active in music, film, photography, visual arts, theatre, dance, and art criticism. Given on a competitive basis, the stipend is meant to enable the winners to make considerable progress in their career. Appropriations may be allocated to specific artistic projects, masterclasses or studies abroad, or the purchase of instruments and equipment necessary for their creative work.
The budget for this 9th edition of the “Młoda Polska” stipend program was 3, 550, 000 zł. (approx. $1.1 million USD). From amongst the 605 candidates in all categories, 82 stipend recipients were chosen—roughly half of the winners (42) were in the Music category, including:
For a full listing of all 2012 recipients, visit www.mkidn.gov.pl.
DIAMOND BATON FOR STRUGAŁA
In December 2011, the Polish Radio Board of Directors honored Maestro Tadeusz Strugała with the Diamond Baton Award, in recognition of his outstanding service in promotion of Polish music and culture around the world. Strugała’s career and his role in the musical life of Poland as one of Poland’s leading conductors was also cited, as was his long-standing association with Polish Radio. The award ceremony was followed by a December 18 concert performed by the Polish Radio Orchestra with soloist Aleksandra Kuls in Brahms’s Violin Concerto, Op. 77. Beethoven’s Fourth Symphony, Op. 60 completed the program, which was led by the laureate and broadcast by Polish Radio 2 throughout Poland.
DAROCH IS AUDIENCE FAVORITE IN CROATIA
On February 5, 2012, the official results of the Fifth International Antonio Janigro Cello Competition in Zagreb, Croatia were announced. Tomasz Daroch, the only Pole in the finals of the competition, won Third Prize as well as the Audience Award, the Award of the Janigro Family, the Zagreb Soloists Award and the Varaždin Chamber Orchestra Award.
ZUBEL @ ICEBREAKER IN SEATTLE
The festival's other great discovery was Zubel [...]
Award-winning composer and vocalist Agata Zubel will perform as a featured artist in Seattle at the Icebreaker Festival, where she will present works by Luciano Berio (Italy), Georges Aperghis (Greece) and Luís Tinoco (Portugal). This year’s edition, Icebreaker VI, is celebrating new music from the Mediterranean. Seattle Chamber Players, the organizers of the festival, have taken on the ambitious goal of breaking the ice in many ways: between the West and East; between Europe, Asia and Africa; between academic concert music and both folk and traditional musics; between the diverse and inspirational cultures within the Mediterranean region; and between the region's deep and ancient history and its colorful present.
The ensemble is comprised of Paul Taub - flute, David Sabee - cello, Laura DeLuca - clarinet, and Mikhail Shmidt - violin, and Joining them are local musicians and special international soloists from Poland, Israel and Algeria. Over two days, they will play works by composers from 13 countries of the Mediterranean region, including Nabil Benabdeljalil (Morocco), Benet Casablancas (Spain), Salim Dada (Algeria), Sanja Drakulic (Croatia), Mohammed Fairouz (Egypt/Lebanon), Yann Robin (France), Uroa Rojko (Slovenia), Luis Tinoco (Portugal), Yitzhak Yedid (Israel). Many of the composers will be present for the performances.
Zubel’s participation is in part supported by the Polish Cultural Foundation, NY.
For details about the Icebreaker Festival concerts and the performers, visit www.seattlechamberplayers.org.
STARS ARE PROMOTED
The 2012 National Festival "Gwiazdy Promują" [Stars Promote] will be held from February 10-17 in the Lower Silesian Philharmonic in Jelenia Gora. This Festival is an annual event that permanently in the Jelenia Góra Philharmonic concert calendar. Now in its nineteenth year, the Festival promotes talented musicians from across Poland to hone their skills under the guidance of masters, and concert audiences have the opportunity to see the effects of this transfer of skills and esoteric knowledge.
The Festival will open with a concert entitled "The Master and his successors," featuring violinists Marcin Baranowski, Andrew Gębskiego, Stanislaw Podemskiego, and Anna Orlik, with the Lower Silesian Philharmonic under the baton of Mark Pijarowski. The program will include Romuald Twardowski - Spanish Fantasy for Violin and Orchestra, Barbara Kaszuba - Remembrance of Janusz Korczak for solo violin, Niccolo Paganini - Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 6, and Piotr Tchaikovsky - Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 35.
LUTOSŁAWSKI ŁAŃCUCH IX
This year’s Łańcuch Festival began on the 99th anniversary of Lutosławski’s birth, January 25, and ran through February 4. Four evenings of music were held at the Royal Castle and the Lutosławski Studio in Warsaw. There was a concert dedicated to the memory of Stefan Jarociński, a close friend of Lutosławski, and a concert of works by Andrzej Krzanowski, one of Lutosławski’s younger colleagues who died twenty years ago. The Festival opened with a concert featuring Norwegian singer Solveig Kringelborn, whose career began with the world premiere of Lutosławski’s Chantefleurs et chantefables in 1991. The closing concert also featured works by Henri Dutilleux and Magnus Lindberg in performance by the Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra [NOSPR] under the baton of French conductor Pierre-André Valade. Other artists invited to participate in this year’s festival included Klaudiusz Baran – accordion, Zdzisław Piernik – tuba, Bartosz Koziak – cello and Agnieszka Kozło – piano, Grzegorz Krawiec – guitar, the Janusz Prusinowski Trio and the OPiUM Quartet. As in previous years, Bogdan Zdrojewski, Minister of Culture and National Heritage was the honorary patron of this year’s concerts.
BLECHACZ PLAYS SZYMANOWSKI
Rafał Blechacz – Debussy · Szymanowski
The newest album from the 2005 Chopin Competition winner, Rafał Blechacz, celebrates the musical confluences between Karol Szymanowski and Claude Debussy. Below is an excerpt from an article about the recording by Jürgen Otten, entitled “The Triumph of Sensibility” from the Deutsche Grammophon website:
LUTOSŁAWSKI ON CHANDOS
Lutosławski: Orchestral Works 2
Edward Gardner and the BBC Symphony Orchestra continue to record Lutosławski’s music for the Chandos label. The first CD in the cycle came out in September 2010, featuring orchestral works: Symphony No. 3, Łańcuch III and the Concerto for Orchestra (CHAN 5082). In August 2011 the second CD was issued, containing the vocal works Tryptyk Śląski, Lacrimosa, Paroles tissées, Les espaces du sommeil, Spijze, spij, and Chantefleurs et Chantefables (CHAN 10688). Volume II has been reviewed in this month’s American Record Guide.
This most recent recording was issued in December 2011 and features a second round of symphonic explorations in collaboration with piano soloist Louis Lortie. More information on the recording, including the commentary by Polish contemporary music scholar Adrian Thomas, can be found on the Chandos website: www.chandos.net
PENDERECKI ON NAXOS SERIES
Krzysztof Penderecki: Viola Concerto | Cello Concerto No. 2
From the Naxos website:
From a review by Byzantion on MusicWeb International, January 2012:
WIENIAWSKI & CHARLIE SIEM
Charlie Siem: Bruch, Wieniawski, Ole Bull
From a review by Jonathan Woolf on MusicWeb International (Dec. 2011):
FIALKOWSKA PLAYS LISZT
In 2009-2010, Polish-Canadian pianist Janina Fialkowska marked the end of her successful battle with cancer and her return to performing with the release of three Chopin albums on the Atma Classique label: Chopin Recital (ACD22597), Chopin - Piano Concertos (ACD22643), and Chopin - Etudes, Sonatas & Impromptus (ACD22554). For one hailed by Arthur Rubinstein as a “born Chopin interpreter” such as Fialkowska, such a voluble celebration of the Chopin Year might seem like enough recording for quite some time. However, as she announced in a 2010 interview with Rebecca Franks for BBC Music Magazine, she was just as excited about the Liszt year in 2011, and celebrated that occasion with a recording of works by Liszt as well as his transcriptions of other composers such as Chopin and Gounod. According to Bryce Morrison of Gramophone (Jan 2012), “we need many more records from this master-pianist!” For more reviews, visit www.janinafialkowska.com.
Ewelina Nowicka: Musik fur Violine und Klavier
As if Ewelina Nowicka is not already a superbly talented violinist she can also compose with equal merit. In 2011, she released her debut CD of seven of her own compositions for violin and piano.
The first one is called Obsession for Violin & Piano. It is in three movements: I. Praefatio, II. Misterio, III. Finale. Ms. Nowicka plays the violin while Pola Lazar plays piano. Written in 1999, this was Nowicka's first composition for orchestra violin, xylophone and chamber orchestra. Later, during 2010, it was transcribed for violin and piano. the composer's interests and rythmic aspects are conveyed particularly well in this piece and became a seed for later compositional developments which have blossomed into quite a repertoire of beautiful music.
The second is a violin solo called Atonall. This wonderful piece was inspired by Schumann's Kinderszenen [Scenes from Childhood]. As it evolves, it contains both old and new violin playing techniques, requiring great virtuosity from the soloist.
The next two works are based upon Jewish motifs and themes. Both are illustrious examples of the influence of Jewish music on classical music.
Kaddish 1944 for Violin and Piano is an evocative piece played by Ms. Nowicka and her piano partner Milena Antoniewcz who frequently play concerts together internationally. A letter from Nowicka's aunt served as the inspiration for this piece. The letter describes her aunt's life in the Łódź ghetto and goes on to describe her journey on a cattle train to Auschwitz. It was during this journey where she became separated from her mother on the ramp. The melody appears at the very beginning of the piece and can be likened to a fragile and delicate small plant. The melody then goes through many developments rather than flourish, but gets a chance to do so at the end. This is how the impressions, influences, and musical structure are linked together.
Concerto Ebraico for Violin and Piano has three movements: I. Sabbat, II. Katharsis, III. Purim. The Sabbath, which on the Jewish calendar falls on Saturday, is the most Holy Day and supercedes all others including the High Holy Days of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Purim is an ancient celebration when the Jews overcame extermination by the King of Persia with the help of Queen Esther. This time Ewelina is joined by the praiseworthy pianist Jennifer Hymer. Concerto Ebraico, Nowicka's second violin concerto, received an award in 2008 from the Bremen Composers Competition in Germany. Many musical elements come together in this piece. It contains an energetic, lively dialogue between the piano and violin, and reminds the listener of late Romantic and folk elements from the early 20th century. Furthermore, it combines technical savvy with emotional depth, thereby engaging the audience right from the beginning until the very end.
Conventus for piano solo is played beautifully by pianist Katharina Polivaeva. One can imagine the similarity to creating a very beautiful sculpture. The listener could and should imagine flying through the air, as a musical space is created by carving out a low, middle, and high register on a piano. This imagery is achieved through techniques such as clusters and faint minimalistic characteristics. Natural and spatial elements are further emphasized by sustaining tones through the pedals. This emotional, expressive, powerful work is full of imagination.
Saltatio mortis for violin and piano attracts the talents of yet another fine pianist, Michał Krezlewski. This composition was originally written for violin, harpsichord, and chamber orchestra. This recording features the violin and piano transcription. This danse macabre is distinctive because of its atonal elements and especially for its ostinato pattern.
Strawinskana is a solo for violin quite obviously dedicated to the famous composer Igor Stravinsky. The composer quotes 20th century music and reveals how she was influenced by Stravinsky, a master of rhythm. There is a very clear reference to Stravinsky's violin concerto within the first two measures. Nowicka uses this as a point of departure in order to create her own ideas leading to an expressive, rhythmically-structured composition.
Assessing a young composer or classifying them within a specific musical genre is no easy task. Eras such as the Baroque, Classical, or Romantic periods, although well-defined, belong to the past and not the present. Young composers are developing their own unique styles. They may express themselves in various ways within a single work and their pieces are often described as eclectic.
Listening to this recording, one thing becomes crystal clear regarding Ewelina Nowicka and her musical pieces: we are dealing with both a virtuoso violinist as well as a virtuoso composer. Nowicka and her piano partners bring these pieces to life with passionate performances. Nowicka engages the listener by enchanting them and inviting them into her personal life - arousing their emotions evocatively. Her music is frequently inspired by her own family history, which has a rich heritage closely tied to Jewish culture, and also the characteristics of experimental contemporary music, which can be found in just about all her works.
Ewelina Nowicka is a musician who clearly plays and composes from her heart. She is passionate about both composition and violin. Whether as a composer or on the violin with Ewelina Nowicka you are sure to win!
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A Tribute to Glenn Gould
Regarding her debut album, pianist Magdalena Baczewska states it best for her reason for a special tribute to Glenn Gould:
Polish pianist Magdalena Baczewska holds a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from Manhattan School of Music, having written a dissertation "In search of Bach's Cantibile: The Role and Aspects of Oratory and Singing in Keyboard Interpretation." As a winner of international piano competitions, she has appeared as a soloist with several orchestras. Her performances have been broadcast on WQXR, NPR, Voice of America, and on European radio and television.
Ms. Baczewska has served on the faculty of Montclair State University in New Jersey as well as the International Keyboard Institute and Festival in NYC. She is also a published music critic (New York Concert Review). Ms. Baczewska has commissioned works for piano and has given several world premieres. Her main focus lies in the early keyboard literature, which she performs both on the harpsichord and the piano.
American Record Guide calls Polish-born Magdalena Baczewska "clearly a rising star" and describes her recent recording of the Goldberg Variations as "World-class Bach...imaginative playing, always rhythmically alive." Combining profound musicianship, passion for educating and a gift of public speaking, Baczewska is increasingly known for her innovative recital programming ideas and making her audiences think. "Baczewska enlightens…" wrote Greg Stepanich in the Palm Beach Arts Paper after her 2009 Miami appearance. She was described as "imaginative and instructive, a player of taste, purity of tone, and clarity of line." The same author further noted her "admirable sensitivity, impressive technique and ability to muster plenty of interpretive fire…"
Magdalena treats each performance not as a mere showcase of her talent but a gift of knowledge and perspective. Considering herself a musical sommelier, she finds inventive pairings of repertoire and sheds new light on her audiences' favorite music. In 2001, she has started playing the harpsichord and exploring a wide range of early (pre-Baroque) keyboard repertoire, which she performs both on the piano and the harpsichord. Her repertoire also includes works of livings composers, with several commissions and world premieres. Her recordings and performances, hailed as "eloquent and technically flawless" (The Washington Post).
In May 2011, Magdalena received an Outstanding Achievement Award from the Polish Minister of Culture, Mr. Bogdan Zdrojewski.
Music for Dreams, Vol. 1 & Vol. 2
Inspired by Bach’s Goldberg Variations which were commissioned by Count Keyserlingk – an insomniac – Ms. Baczewska focuses her second release on relaxing her listener. "Music for Dreams" is a 2 volume set conceived in collaboration with BlueSleep, a medical team specialized in research and treatment of sleep disorders. The albums are a blend of music and medicine to sooth the soul. Baczewska charms the listener with a rare beauty, with rest and relaxation as the ultimate goal. The soft and soothing sounds are intended to help regulate breathing and heart rate, and induce a healthy and regenerating sleep.
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Gary Fitelberg is a Polish-American author, biographer, historian, music critic and historian specializing in the Fitelberg family musicians, Young Poland (Młoda Polska), Polish –Jewish musicians, and exiled and forgotten musicians.
GÓRECKI: POLISH SPIRITUALS
From November 5-8, 2011, the Polish Radio Choir gave a landmark tour of the UK presenting a program entitled Górecki: Polish Spirituals. Founded in 1948 and based in Kraków, the Polish Radio Choir is one of Poland’s leading choirs and worked extensively on Górecki’s music with the composer during his lifetime. Conducted by Artur Sędzielarz, the group’s Artistic Director since 2010, these concerts were a tribute to one of the late twentieth century’s great composers a year after his death in November 2010.
Tour concerts were held in Durham, London, Bristol and Liverpool. The all-Górecki programs included: Totus Tuus (1987); Five Kurpian Songs (1999); Three Lullabies (1984); Song of the Katyn Families (2004); Come Holy Spirit (1986); and Amen (1975). Concert notes by Adrian Thomas can be seen at www.adrianthomasmusic.com.
The tour was produced by Third Ear—a trio of UK music professionals with extensive experience, expertise and networks across the new music scene—in association with the Adam Mickiewicz Institute, Polska Music, Polish Professionals in London and the Polish Cultural Institute -London.
BOROWICZ CONDUCTS CHOPINIANA IN BERLIN
On January 13-15, the Konzerthausorchester Berlin performed a concert entitled “Chopiniana” with the Russian pianist Alexei Volodin and Polish conductor Łukasz Borowicz (left), Artistic Director of Warsaw’s Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra. The program included Chopin – Piano Concerto in F minor, Op. 21, Karłowicz – Eternal Songs, Op. 10, Panufnik – Lullaby for 29 strings and 2 harps, and Glazunov – Chopiniana, Op. 46.
The 37th anniversary of Tadeusz Ochlewski’s death was celebrated with a special mass at the Dominican Basilica in Kraków on January 29. Mr. Ochlewski was the founder and long-time director of the Polish Music Publishers [PWM].
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Newsletter Editor: Krysta Close
Translation Assistance: Marek Żebrowski
Layout Assistance: Charles Bragg
Marek Żebrowski, Joseph A. Herter, Gary Fitelberg, Pasadena Playhouse
Sources of information: Polish Cultural Institute (NY & UK), Adam Mickiewicz Institute,
Nowy Dziennik, Polish Music Information Centre - Warsaw, Polish American Journal,
Poland.pl, PAP, ZKP, infochopin.pl, Ruch Muzyczny, Gazeta Wyborcza
Formatting by Krysta Close, February 13, 2012.
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