|Polish Music Newsletter
May 2006, Vol. 12, No. 5. ISSN 1098-9188. Published monthly.
Los Angeles: Polish Music Center, University of Southern California
In May, we are focusing on Daniel Kamiński, who, in addition to his intensive percussion studies at USC, has been an essential member of the PMC staff since May 2005. Daniel was born in Bydgoszcz, Poland, and began his musical education at the age of six, attending local primary and secondary music schools. Moving on to the Chopin Conservatory in Warsaw, Daniel studied with the famous professor Stanisław Skoczyński. At the same time he performed and recorded as a freelance member of the National Philharmonic, National Opera, Sinfonia Varsovia, and Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra. With a 2002 Masters' Degree from the Chopin Conservatory, Daniel traveled to the US, where he continued to study at the University of Akron, Ohio, and also worked as a Graduate Teaching Assistant. Since the fall of 2004, Daniel has been enrolled in the DMA program at the Thornton School of Music, USC, where he also holds a post of Teaching Assistant.
Daniel's accomplishments as a virtuoso percussionist are already quite considerable. They include the 2nd prize at the National Marimba Competition in Warsaw (2000) in addition to being finalist in the 7th National Competition for Contemporary Music Performance (2001), and participating in the International Timpani Competition in Paris (2001). In 2004 Daniel received the Outstanding Graduate Student award, made the National Deans List, and became a member of Phi Kappa Lambda honors society.
Daniel's duties at the Polish Music Center are quite varied, ranging from assisting in cataloguing books and scores, to maintaining and editing our databases. He is the assistant editor of the PMC Newsletter, selecting and translating items for publication on our website. Daniel's computer skills have also been put to good use in entering music scores and generating parts for rehearsals and concerts; he has also been involved in processing the Stojowski and Vars collections, recently donated to PMC.
Daniel is an active soloist and ensemble member on the Los Angeles music scene. His participation in PMC-sponsored events has included giving West Coast premieres of chamber music works by Marta Ptaszyńska in October 2005. From his highly-placed position behind the battery of percussion instruments, Daniel's commanding presence was clearly felt (and heard!) during his performances as timpanist and percussionist for the USC Chamber and Symphony Orchestra with such soloists as Yo-Yo Ma and Itzhak Perlman. Last January Daniel performed at a special Royce Hall concert, "Journey to the Light," celebrating the achievements of the Oscar-winning Hollywood composer, Jan A.P. Kaczmarek.
Continuing to champion music by contemporary Polish composers, Daniel's 2005 graduate recital included the American premiere of Aura for marimba by a young Polish composer, Jerzy Rogiewicz, a performance of Stravinsky's Histoire du soldat, as well as works by Keiko Abe and David Mancini. His second graduate recital on April 23, 2006 exclusively featured marimba music by Gunther Waldek, Keiko Abe, Eckhard Kopetzki, and a virtuoso transcription of Bach's 2nd Cello Suite. In his very busy schedule, Daniel still finds some time to study, teach, and play on numerous recording sessions at USC and at the Paramount Scoring Stage. Here's what Daniel says about his musical life: " At one time I really hoped to be a composer. But you have to decide and, at the moment, that is my Plan B. I still write music when I have the time, and think of applying to the Scoring for Motion Picture and Television program at USC Electronic and computer music [as well as] the music technology these days is so fascinating, and helpful for a writer to hear what their composition sounds like. With [technological] advancement also comes the complication and time spent on discovering the possibilities. [As far the piano playing goes] I really wish that when I was a kid I devoted more time to the instrument. I still can play it fairly well, but I could have been so much better. Piano playing is a tremendous help in all areas of my musical experience. My plans for the future are to finish my DMA in percussion performance and, hopefully find a good orchestral position in the States or Western Europe. [Eventually, I'd like to] pursue the composition harder and find a higher education post to pass the knowledge to younger generations."
For the past few months, Daniel has devoted long hours of practicing in order to prepare a program for the International Marimba Competition in Linz, Austria. He will travel there in July, thanks to a special grant from the Kosciuszko Foundation that made his overseas trip possible. Given the stiff competition for such grants, Daniel's selection speaks volumes about his accomplishments to-date. All of us at the Polish Music Center wish him much success in all his future endeavors.[MZ]
Polish film composer Zbigniew Preisner was announced as a member of the Cinéfondation and short films Jury at the 2006 International Film Festival in Cannes. To celebrate the 10th anniversary of death of Krzysztof Kieślowski the Festival committee wanted to include a close cooperator of the famous director and Mr. Preisner was an excellent choice, having worked on many of Kieślowski's films. This year's Cannes Festival takes place between May 17 and 28.
photo copyright: Anna Włoch
Zbigniew Preisner is a self-taught composer. He wrote his first film score in 1982 for Antoni Krauze's Weather Forecast. After that many directors asked Preisner for his music, including Krzysztof Kieślowski, Agnieszka Holland, Peter Kassovitz and Louis Mandoka. Preisner has received many awards, including two French Césars (1995, 1996), a German Silver Bear (1997) and three times the distinction of Best Film Score Composer (1991, 1992, 1993) from the Los Angeles Critics Association.Other news/events in honor of the 10th death anniversary of Krzysztof Kieślowski: Film festivals in Paris , Łódź, Los Angeles/Hollywood , Toronto, Berkeley, Cleveland, etc. See schedules at: irenkaaa.free.fr/double/hommage.htm and www.polishculture-nyc.org New York premiere of A Conversation with Krzysztof Kieślowski, directed by Andreas Voigt: www.nypff.com Re-issue of the DVD of La Double Vie de Véronique (Kieślowski, director and Preisner, soundtrack): irenkaaa.free.fr
My Nikifor [Mój Nikifor] by Krzysztof Krauze; Tulips [Tulipany] by Jacek Boruch; The Perfect Afternoon [Doskonałe popołudnie] by Przemysław Wojcieszek; The Call of the Toad [Wróżby kumaka] by Robert Gliński; Down Colorful Hill [W dol kolorowym wzgorzem] by Przemyslaw Wojcieszek; Pitbull by Patryk Wega; The Cross-Way Café [Rozdroze Café] by Leszek Wosiewicz; Persona Non Grata by Krzysztof Zanussi; Homo Father by Piotr Matwiejczyk; Vinci by Juliusz Machulski; Fallow Land [Ugor] by Dominik Matwiejczyk. Films produced outside of Poland: My Summer of Love by Pawel Pawlikowski; One Long Winter Without Fire by Greg Zglinski; Karol—The Man Who Became Pope by Giacomo Battiato; The Unbraid Man by Marta Meszaros. Documentaries include: Arden2, Betrayal, The Battle for Warsaw; After the Gulag; Artur Szyk; and the World Premiere of Life is a Dream in Cinema: Pola Negri.
The Festival will present a retrospective of Feliks Falk's films with of The Collector [Komornik] - Poland's official submission to the 2006 Academy Award, Hero of the Year [Bohater roku] and Top Dog [Wodzirej] and special screening of Andrzej Wajda's English-language film The Shadow Line, in honor of his 80th birthday. The year of Krzysztof Kieslowski will be celebrated with special screenings of Camera Buff [Amator], Big Animal [Duże zwierze], The Double Life of Veronique [Podwojne zycie Veroniki], Colors: Blue, Red & White, Short Film About Killing and Short Film About Love at the Bing Theatre at LACMA (May 5-6/12-13) and his documentaries at The Egyptian Theatre (May 14/21/28). The retrospective is organized in collaboration with the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles Filmforum, Polish Cultural Institute in New York, TVP, Polish National Film Archive, Consulate General of Poland in Los Angeles and Polish American Film Society.
The following filmmakers and artists will be among this year's guests:
To ensure your invitation to the Opening Gala, the minimum level of support requested is $50 as a Festival Friend sponsor. Please make your invaluable, tax-deductible financial contributions to: Polish American Film Society and mail your checks to 7726 Ethel Ave., North Hollywood, CA 91605. For more information please call Vladek Juszkiewicz, director of Polish Film Festival: 818-982-8827 or visit www.polishfilmla.org.
[Vladek Juszkiewicz, festival director]
NEW YORKCome Celebrate Polish Film in New York City! The 2nd annual NY Polish Film Festival, scheduled for May 5th to 12th, 2006, presents the best of Polish Cinema to New York City. This year the festival will screen many new feature film releases, including Mój Nikifor [My Nikifor], directed by Krzysztof Krauze and awarded the highest honor at the 2005 Chicago International Film Festival, and Komornik [The Collector], directed by Feliks Falk, this year's Polish Oscar candidate and winner for the "Best Movie Award" at the Polish Film Festival in Gdynia 2005. Featured from the younger generation of Polish filmmakers will be: Doskonale popołudnie [The Perfect Afternoon], directed by Przemysław Wojcieszek, and many more ...
2006 poster design: Ryszard Horowitz
Dikanda is a group founded in 1997 in Szczecin, Poland. They created their own style and original sound inspired by Oriental Culture and Balkan folklore. Typical of Dikanda's style is a creation of new words and meanings in composed songs. They have released three CDs and played hundreds of concerts, including the major European festivals.
The Royal String Quartet was established in Warsaw in 1998 and coached by the Wilanów, Camerata and Albana Berg Quartets. They area part of BBC Radio 3's "New Generation Artist" scheme, which is a promotion of the most promising, outstanding young artists on the world stage.
Information for this article taken from the Polish Cultural Institute U.K.
The main objective of the competition is to bring forth instruments which have the best sound characteristics and display the highest mastery of violinmaking. The instruments are evaluated by an international jury of violinmakers and violinists. The competition consists of three stages. In the first, the jury qualifies instruments for the competition, eliminating those which do not comply with competition rules, do not have the features of an artistic work, or represent a low level of craftsmanship. In the second stage, the jury evaluates each instrument individually. The violin makers among the jury evaluate the instruments from a technical perspective (the workmanship, aesthetic features of the wood and lacquer as well as stylistic features), while the musicians from a sound perspective (tonal force and timbre, levelness between strings and individual features). The third stage of the competition is open to the public and the jury evaluates the sound of the violins as they perform on stage. The individual violins are played by specially invited violinists—soloists with the accompaniment of the orchestra and piano. The competition is open to all violin-makers, irrespective of age. Everyone is allowed to submit a maximum of two original and handmade violins. The instrument must be made no later than 3 years before the competition.
Despite its difficulties, not least of which is balancing the constant interplay between the two instruments, the Franck Violin Sonata has long fascinated musicians and audiences alike, to the point that some people might call for a moratorium on its performance, so inescapable has it become. From the beginning, Franck authorized its performance on the cello; violists and flutists have transcriptions of their own. The sonata even penetrated one of the most famous works of French literature; Marcel Proust used it as the model for the sonata by the fictitious composer Vinteuil in his novel In Search of Lost Time.
Franck was 65 when he wrote the sonata. Like most of Franck's sensual, mature works, it is haunted by Wagner's Tristan and Isolde; the Wagnerian-turned-Franckian chromaticism brings a disturbing, restless yearning to the work's passions. Along with the opulent harmonies comes a loose, rhapsodic structure, unified by a small number of themes cycling through the work again and again. Indeed, the third movement, Recitativo-Fantasia, sweeps and sighs through fragments of themes from the previous two movements and offers a preview of what will happen to them in the canonic final movement.
Ahead Of Its Time
This work's difficulties are not only technical, but musical. How to maintain the right tension in both the harmony and the melodic line? How to phrase in a way that feels free but not disjointed? How to wring every drop of passion from the piece without overheating it into syrup?
Violinist Vincent Skowronski's first piece of advice is "leave the Franck Sonata alone." Convey its passionate style, but don't exaggerate the Romanticism that's already there aplenty. "It's truly heart-on-your-sleeve Romanticism at its best, with great writing for both violin and piano," he says. "In all the years I've played it, and heard it played by other violinists and by students of mine, even if it's not done as perfectly or as wondrously as one would like it to be, you can't ruin the piece."
Skowronski is an independent violinist based in Evanston, Illinois. A laureate of the 1970 International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow, he operates a rare-instrument brokerage firm, runs his own CD label, and maintains a private teaching studio. On his label, Skowronski: Classical Recordings, he has reissued his powerful performance of the Franck Sonata from the LP era with pianist Donald Isaak on Skowronski Plays! Franck, Szymanowski, Bacewicz, and Saint-Saens (S:CR-04). It's a work Skowronski loves, but doesn't exactly venerate. Around his studio, he refers to it as the "Franck Sinatra."
Skowronski suggests starting halfway through the third movement. The first half of that movement, the Recitative part, is actually one of the sonata's toughest passages, a wide-ranging, harmonically untethered meditation that picks up where Bach's solo suites left off. The movement's Fantasia section, in contrast, poses fewer difficulties. "This is the nucleus of the piece as far as thematic material goes," he says. The Fantasia emerges from the big climax at rehearsal No. 8 in the Carl Fischer edition of the score. It eases off into a very quiet passage marked dolcissimo, then ebbs and flows in terms of dynamics and, to a lesser extent, tempo, then builds to a grand, loud climax before subsiding again, all the while toying with fragments of the sonata's various themes. In effect, this is an accompanied cadenza for the whole sonata.
"You see things here that you rarely see in other violin scores," Skowronski points out, "markings like molto largamente e dramatico, with dynamic markings of triple forte. Franck's instrument was the organ, and with the organ he had no problem getting as much sound as he wanted and sustaining it. That's the key to the sonata here: great, sustained volume, like an organ. "It takes a great bow arm to do that, while the pianist with his steely fingers is doing it, too; this is what makes the piece so monumental."
No Slight Of Hand
"In the last four or five bars he writes molto lento, as if lento weren't enough, e mesto—pathetically, mournfully—and ends the piece in C-sharp minor. That's a pretty dolorous ending. If you don't get that point across, you've really missed what's important about this movement."
"As far as technique is concerned, not much happens between rehearsal No. 8 and the end. It's just a matter of keeping the wind going. It's like a triathlon, when you jump out of the water then you've got to get on the bicycle, and when you get off the bicycle you have to hit the ground running. It never lets up."
Stamina is one thing, but what about Romantic touches like portamento and rubato? Can you go wrong with that in such a heart-on-your-sleeve sonata? "Portamento can be beautiful if it's done with good taste, or soupy and unlovely if it's not," he says. "If you get too soupy, it gets affected. Portamento done at the right place at the right time with the right speed and approach--you've got to know when to land on it, not too soon and not too late—when that happens, then you've got magic. The students today kind of are interested in a straight-up delivery with Franck. But when people do attempt portamento now, the whole world has to know about it. You never saw Muhammad Ali telegraph a punch. You never saw it coming. Portamento and glissando have to be like that, an integral part of what you're doing; you shouldn't sit there and say, 'Did you hear that portamento?' I would suggest not doing anything, including rubato, excessively. A lot of times people get in the way of the music. If you try to fabricate something, you've missed the point. Just play what the man wrote and play on the back side of the beat and enjoy yourself. Don't beat it, don't try to whip it into submission, and the piece will carry you."
Jerzy Maksymiuk was born in 1936 in Grodno, Poland. He studied piano, composition and conducting at the State Higher Music School in Warsaw (now the F. Chopin Music Academy). He has performed with many great orchestras in Poland and abroad. His closest connection is with the British orchestras, such as Scottish BBC Symphony Orchestra and London Symphony Orchestra. He is also an active composer and promoter of contemporary music.
Copyright 2006 by the Polish Music