|Polish Music Newsletter|
May 2007, Vol. 13, No. 5. ISSN 1098-9188. Published monthly.
The great Polish musician, patriot and statesman Ignacy Jan Paderewski will be commemorated at the University of Southern California on October 4, 2007. On that day, a large bronze monument of Paderewski will be permanently placed amongst the buildings of the Thornton School of Music at USC. This initiative will recognize the achievements of this extraordinary musician and his links to the University that, on February 22, 1923, conferred upon Paderewski an honorary doctorate of laws.
The fund-drive for this worthy project has been initiated by the Polish Music Center at USC, the Consulate-General of the Polish Republic in Los Angeles, the Polish-American Congress, and the Polish-American Historical Association. Poland's First Lady, Madame Maria Kaczyńska is the chairwoman of the project's Honorary Committee, composed of several prominent civic and political leaders from around the world.
As a pianist, Paderewski was one of the greatest virtuosos in the history of music. But his spectacular achievements were not limited only to the area of piano performance. Paderewski was one of Poland's greatest patriots—a man who devoted a considerable amount of his life and resources to Polish causes. Together with the writer Henryk Sienkiewicz, Paderewski set up the Polish Victims' Relief Fund in 1915 and for three years toured the United States, speaking on Poland's behalf and donating proceeds from his concerts to numerous Polish causes. Paderewski's tireless advocacy for Poland secured President Wilson's support for the establishment of an independent Poland. For three years after the war—between 1918 and 1921—Paderewski completely abandoned his very lucrative performing career in order to serve his country. He was the first Premier of independent Poland and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, unifying different factions and political parties within the newly-reborn Polish state. Paderewski's extensive personal contacts with the crowned heads of Europe, heads of state, and other influential individuals all over the world made him a perfect representative for Poland during the Versailles Conference and a life-long ambassador of his native land.
When World War II broke out Paderewski was seventy nine years old and living in Switzerland. In spite of his age, he once again extended his helping hand to Poland, serving the Polish government in-exile. After the Nazi invasion of France, he traveled to the United States, making speeches, meeting with politicians and civic leaders, and pleading once again for help for his beloved country. His last speech, on June 22, 1941, was given in Oak Ridge, New Jersey. Paderewski's impassioned oratory reached the hearts of his audience, a several thousand strong crowd of Polish-Americans and Veterans of World War I. Speaking of the international tyranny that once again was trying to deny the Polish nation the right to exist, Paderewski said: “This is no ordinary war… It is a question of our future, of the future of the whole world.” He concluded by articulating an astonishingly correct vision of Poland's future: “… I believe that this historic tragedy will give birth to Poland. I don't know if my fate will allow me to see this Poland, but I deeply believe that for you and for your children the country will be a source of pride and joy.” Exactly one week later, Paderewski died in New York City and was buried at the Arlington National Cemetery. It was only after the independent Poland emerged from the ruins of the Communist regime in 1989 that Paderewski's remains were returned for burial in Warsaw.
To have the Paderewski Monument stand at one of the most prestigious universities in America is undoubtedly a magnificent tribute to the achievements of one of Poland's greatest sons. University of Southern California already has recognized Paderewski's immense and noble deeds with the greatest honor it could bestow upon him. Today, the initiative to preserve that legacy must come from Polish-Americans. Financial contributions for the Monument from all over the United States would indeed be a proper expression of gratitude to the memory of this extraordinary artist and patriot to whom all of us owe so much. As of April 1, 2007, we have raised 25% of the total funds needed for construction costs of the Monument. Please consider sending your donation in recognition of Paderewski's achievements on Poland's behalf to the Paderewski Monument Fund Drive that is coordinated by Polish-American Historical Association, California Chapter. Your checks should be made out to “PAHA, California Chapter” and sent to:
The Paderewski Fund Drive is a 501 C3 registered not-for-profit organization, and your contribution is tax deductible to the extent allowable by state and federal laws. Please share this appeal with all your relatives and friends. Each and every one of us can feel proud to support this unique and magnificent project. On behalf of all the organizers of this effort—the Polish Music Center at USC, the Consulate-General of the Republic of Poland in Los Angeles, the Polish-American Congress, and the Polish-American Historical Association—a heartfelt thank you for your understanding and generosity. God bless!
The Polish Cultural Institute in London has prepared a wide-ranging discography of various recordings of Szymanowski's music, complete with performer names, catalog numbers and cover art. See the listing here: www.polishculture.org.uk/EVENTS_2007/szymanowski/szymanowski_music.html. Also, visit our Discography section below for reviews of several new Szymanowski recordings.
The Polish Cultural Institute in London has also prepared a list of recent works written about the life and works of Karol Szymanowski. The list is as follows:
Not included in the list but also of interest:
ON THE AIR
Skowronski Plays Szymanowski -- Indiana University radio will feature Polish violinist, Vincent P. Skowronski, in a recorded performance of Karol Szymanowski's Sonata in D minor, Opus 9. The piece can be heard Saturday, May 12th at approximately 12:15pm (EST). The sonata is a highlight from Skowronski's new CD Release, Skowronski Plays! Avec et Sans: Volume II, **Live in Concert**. New York music critic Martin Bookspan says this about the recording: "Skowronski provides us with a performance of the Szymanowski Sonata that is wonderfully played. I love his self-indulgence, the portamenti, the tremendous panache....... the way this music should be played!"
This performance will be available online, via WFIU-FM Radio station in Bloomington, IN, at: www.indiana.edu/~wfiu.
‘A Celebration Of Polish Classical Music' was excellent lecture-recital organized by the Polish Cultural Institute and the Department of Music, Bristol University on Wednesday the 7th of March 2007. The program included the following:
Lecture: 'Szymanowski and Chopin: A Shifting Musical Relationship,' presented by Stephen Downes (University of Surrey)
Dr Stephen Downes is Senior Lecturer in Musicology at the University of Surrey. He studied at the University of Exeter and Goldsmiths' College, University of London. He has published widely on the music of Karol Szymanowski, including two monographs, and also on Schumann, Bartók, Mahler, Karlowicz, Sibelius, Henze and Penderecki. He has lectured in several parts of central and eastern Europe (Warsaw, Krakow, Vilnius, Budapest, Ljubljana, Brno, Belgrade). In 1989 he won the Wilk Prize for Research in Polish Music from the University of Southern California and in 1999 was awarded the Karol Szymanowski Memorial Medal.
After studying piano for two years as a postgraduate at the RNCM in Manchester, Raymond Clarke made his London South Bank Centre début in March 1988, a recital described by Music and Musicians as 'truly a historic performance' and which according to the critic of The Times 'simply left one in dazed admiration.' Since then Raymond has been an active recitalist, and has appeared as piano soloist in over forty works with orchestra, ranging from Mozart's concerti to Messiaen's Turangalîla-Symphonie. In recent years his concert appearances at Bristol University have included some of the most technically demanding music ever written for the instrument, such as the Liszt B minor and Dante sonatas, Rachmaninov's Second Sonata (original version), Szymanowski's Third Sonata, Stravinsky's Three Movements from Petrushka, Messiaen's Cantéyodjayâ, and Tippett's Fourth Sonata. His radio broadcasts have included repertoire ranging from Beethoven's Sonata No. 32 in C Minor Op. 111 to Robert Simpson's Piano Concerto with the BBC Symphony Orchestra
KACZYŃSKA IN LOS ANGELESThe First Lady of Poland, Maria Kaczyńska, visited Los Angeles for the opening of the 8th Polish Film Festival. At a special ceremony on April 27th, 2007, the Festival director, Vladek Juszkiewicz received the Officer's Cross of the Republic of Poland, awarded by President Lech Kaczyński. Madame Kaczyńska also met with mayor Antonio Villaragosa and spoke, among other things, about creating a Polish Cultural Centre in Los Angeles as well as creating a sister city relationship between Los Angeles and Łódź. Both cities share many characteristics, the most important being that each of them is the center of film industry in their respective countries.
On Saturday, April 28th, Madame Kaczyńska met with leading representatives of several Polish organizations at the Loyola Marymount University. During the two-hour session, Poland 's First Lady heard presentations on various cultural activities, including the Polish Music Center 's initiative to place a monument of Ignacy Jan Paderewski on the USC campus. During that meeting, Madame Kaczyńska recognized the outstanding achievements of several Polish Americans by awarding them the following: Andrzej Niżyński—the Officer's Cross of the Order of Independent Poland, Danuta Niżyńska—the Chevalier's Cross of the Order of Independent Poland, Richard Widerynski—the Chevalier's Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland, and Jan Gacek—the Chevalier's Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland.
Further meetings of Madame Kaczyńska with the members and guests of the Helena Modjeska Art and Culture Club of Los Angeles and with Polish filmmakers present in Hollywood capped a very successful and productive visit of the First Lady in the Southland.
POLISH RADIO 2 HAS WON
by Piotr Grella-Mozejko, composer
You may recall the article a couple of months ago about the seeming demise of Polish Radio Programme 2, devoted to classical music and jazz. The Polish politicians wanted to erase the Polish Radio Orchestra (Warsaw) and the Polish Radio Choir (Cracow), resulting in about 150 jobs being cut. Also, the Programme 2 frequencies were going to be reduced to a virtual nothing.
WELCOME TO CALIFORNIA
The Southern California musical landscape will be greatly enriched by the presence of an outstanding artist and one of the world's premiere violists, Jerzy Kosmala, who recently moved to Irvine from Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He will perform works by Schubert, Szymanowski, Bruch and Bloch in a recital of romantic viola music on Saturday, May 26th at the Winifred Smith Hall on the UC Irvine campus.
Internationally recognized as a concert and recording artist, Kosmala has concertized throughout Europe, the former Soviet Union, Canada, North and South America, and Asia, and has recordings on Orion, Vox /MGM, and Centaur labels. He is a frequent guest artist and performer at the world's foremost festivals, universities, and academies, including the Royal Academy of Music, Royal College, and Guildhall School of Music in London, England, the Mozarteum in Salzburg, Austria, Eastman, Juilliard, Manhattan, Berlin, Cologne, Stuttgart, Dresden, Vienna, Prague, Warsaw, Krakow, and Hong Kong Schools of Music; and Boston, Toronto, South California, Michigan, and Indiana Universities.
Dr. Kosmala is a permanent jury member of the most prestigious international competitions, including the Lionel Tertis International Viola Competition on the Isle of Man, the Geneva International Viola Competition, the International Viola Competition in Munich, the International Competition in Markneukirchen, Germany, the International Chamber Music Competition in Trapani, Italy, the International Primrose Viola Competition in the USA, the International Brahms Viola Competition in Austria, and the Concert Artist Guild International Competition in New York City. In addition, Jerzy Kosmala has transcribed and published numerous compositions for viola and has premiered many contemporary works, some of which were written especially for him.
A former member of the Kraków String Quartet and renowned Eastman String Quartet, he studied with William Primrose, Eugenia Uminska, Francis Tursi, and is a graduate of the Kraków Academy of Music, Eastman School of Music, and Indiana University. A Professor Emeritus of the Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Jerzy Kosmala has recently joined the faculty at the University of California, Irvine, and is a visiting professor at the Royal Academy of Music in London, England.
PIOTR GRELLA-MOZEJKO: IN FOCUS
Born in Poland and living in Canada since 1989, Piotr Grella-Mozejko holds an M.Mus. in Composition degree from University of Alberta in Edmonton, where he studied with Alfred Fisher, Henry Klumpenhouwer, and the late Christopher Lewis. As a youngster, and prior to settling in Canada, he took private composition courses with the late Prof. Edward Boguslawski and Prof. Boguslaw Schaeffer. In 1994, Grella-Mozejko was the only Canadian selected to participate in the prestigious "June in Buffalo" Festival and Conference, where he attended lectures by and master classes with Milton Babbitt, Donald Erb, David Felder, Lukas Foss, Roger Reynolds, and Charles Wuorinen.
Currently, Grella-Mozejko is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Alberta Office of Interdisciplinary Studies focusing on research concerning artistic and literary output of Tadeusz Peiper, Poland's leading avant-garde writer and theorist, chiefly active between the I and II World Wars. A voting member of the Canadian Music Centre, General Manager of the Edmonton Composers' Concert Society, Grella-Mozejko is also producer of the New Music Alberta concert series, and current editor of The Alberta New Music & Arts Review (which he founded in 1997).
Described by the German press as demonstrating "uncompromising honesty" (Neue Zeitschrift für Musik), praised for his unorthodox aesthetics (Hannoversche Allgemeine Zeitung), and whose work is called "brawny, high-contrast... full of rich counterpoint and compelling textural changes" (The New York Times), "strikingly individual" (The Toronto Star), and "wonderful-sounding" (The Buffalo News, Buffalo, USA) Grella-Mozejko has written on commissions from, among others, The Alberta Foundation for the Arts, The Canada Council for the Arts, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Canadian Polish Congress, Edmonton Arts Council/Clifford E. Lee Fund, Ensemble MW2, International Conversatorium of Organ Music, Polish Ministry of Culture and Art and—most recently—Polish Radio, Canadian Music Centre, and The Flanders Festival.
Presented in seventeen countries, in recent years Grella-Mozejko's music has been commissioned, played and recorded by over a dozen symphony and chamber orchestras in Canada and abroad (including orchestras in Edmonton, Halifax, Kraków, Kyiv, Regina, Scarborough, Wroclaw and Polish Radio Orchestra (Warsaw) as well as by such outstanding performers as ARA Ensemble, The ArtSax Ensemble, Duo Dilemme, Duo Levent, Duo Majoya, Ensemble MW2, the Penderecki and Szymanowski String Quartets, flautists Karin Aurell, Iwona Glinka and Isabelle Schnöller, clarinettists Kasia Marczak, Jean-Guy Boisvert, Don Ross and Harry Sparnaay, to mention just a few.
PIOTR GRELLA-MOZEJKO – MOST RECENT PERFORMANCES:
For a full list of the composer's performances since 2005, visit: eccsociety.com/pdf/Piotr_Recent_Performances.pdf
ANDERSZEWSKI, THE INDIVIDUAL
While pianist Piotr Anderszewski was in town for his debut run with the Philadelphia Orchestra, Philadelphia Inquirer music critic David Patrick Stearns interviewed him, specifically probing the artist individualistic and multi-cultural tendencies. Stearns writes, “But as a proud Pole with Hungarian genes and a primary residence in France, he defies allegiances to any pianist tradition.” This article provides an interesting perspective on a performer who has recently gained such praise for his championing of his fellow Pole, Karol Szymanowski. The interviewer even includes a little vignette about Anderszewski's time in Los Angeles, studying at the University of Southern California. To read the entire article, visit: www.philly.com/inquirer/magazine/20070411_An_individual_in_classical_musics_regimented_ranks.html
The newest composition of Bettina Skrzypczak, entitled Initial, will be premiered on May 13, 2007 during the “Les Amplitudes” Festival in La Chaux-de-Fonds in Switzerland. The piece will be performed by the Orchestre de Chambre de Lausanne, conducted by Italian maestro Marco Angius.
Bettina Skrzypczak is a composer and musicologist, born in Poznań. She currently resides in Switzerland and teaches at the Lucerne Conservatory. She holds a doctorate from the Music Academy in Kraków. To learn more please visit her official website.
KACZMAREK'S NEW SCORES
Academy Award winning composer, Jan A.P. Kaczmarek has just finished recording the score to the movie Evening by Hungarian director Lajos Koltai. The score was recorded in Poland by the Polish Radio Orchestra with Leszek Możdżer on piano and singer Justyna Steczkowska. Evening is an adaptation of a novel by Susan Minot, telling a story of a sick older woman who reminisces about her youth and past love. The woman's two daughters try to cope with mother's sickness and her nearing death. The movie stars Vanessa Redgrave, Glenn Close and Meryl Streep.
In two weeks Kaczmarek will begin recording yet another score, this time for a mini-series entitled War and Peace, based on Lew Tolstoi's Russian epic. The series is a co-production between the BBC, RAI, Kanal Rossija, France 2, TVE, ZDF and Polsat, which will broadcast the show in Poland.
Jan Kaczmarek decided to record both soundtracks in Poland to support and promote Polish artists and maybe create a path for other international composers to record in Poland.
KWIECIEŃ REPLACES HVOROSTOVSKY
On April 25th, the Lyric Opera of Chicago announced that renowned Russian baritone Dmitri Hvorostovsky will not complete his intended run in the title role of Eugene Onegin during the 2007/2008 season. Instead, for the second half of the performances in March 2008, Polish baritone Mariusz Kwiecień will be stepping into the role. Having opened the Lyric's 2002-2003 season with his company debut singing Silvio in a new production of I Pagliacci, Mr. Kwiecień will return to the Lyric stage for the performances on March 17, 21, 24, 27 and 30, 2008. Mr. Kwiecień has also performed the title role for new productions of Eugene Onegin at the Bolshoi Opera (pictured at right) and the Graz Opera.
Mariusz Kwiecień has won accolades worldwide for his handsome voice, incisive musicianship, and strong stage presence. A native of Kraków, Poland, Mr. Kwiecień is an alumnus of the Metropolitan Opera's Lindemann Young Artist Development Program. He appears frequently with the Metropolitan Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Seattle Opera, San Francisco Opera, Vienna State Opera, Royal Opera House, Covent Garden and Paris Opera.
Opera News has this to report about Mr. Kwiecień's operatic performances for this 2006/2007 season:
BESTER QUARTET & MOTION TRIO
On May 31, 2007, the Skirball Center's ongoing accordion music series, "Compressing the World" will feature a double bill of two of Poland's most creative bands: the Bester Quartet (formerly known as the Cracow Klezmer Band), one of the most passionate and virtuosic bands to emerge in the New Jewish Renaissance, and the accordion ensemble Motion Trio, acclaimed for their original compositions of accordion music and extraordinary musicianship.
Bester Quartet is a phenomenon on the global music market. The group is made up of four superior instrumentalists/classically trained musicians. The quartet's trademark is performance of the music of a vast stylistic range that assimilates some selected elements borrowed from classical, jazz and vanguard music, including the best of achievements of the contemporary chamber music where improvisation constitutes a foundation to build unique instrumental forms upon. The ensemble is a new edition of the legendary The Cracow Klezmer Band that was formed back in 1997 in Kraków, Poland as an initiative of Jarosław Bester – a young musician, composer and accordionist. As a result of developing an original and artistically daring repertoire, based chiefly on original compositions or arrangements designed specifically for the instrumental setting, the quartet continues to win recognition among music critics and audience worldwide. Bester Quartet has made numerous TV and radio recordings and has cooperated with many exceptional jazz, klezmer and vanguard musicians, including John Zorn, Tomasz Stańko, Grażyna Auguścik, John McLean, Don Byron, Frank London, Jorgos Skolias, Aaron Alexander, Ireneusz Socha and others. The quartet has got a long-standing cooperation track with John Zorn's NYC based prestigious Tzadik label that has resulted in releasing 6 CDs so far.
Motion Trio is an accordion trio founded in 1996 by Janusz Wojtarowicz, leader and composer of most of their music. A unique entity on the European and world music scene, the Motion Trio is changing the face of the accordion. Their concerts are musical events, full of action and drama. Motion Trio plays Pigini Sirius Millenium accordions, considered the finest in the world. In their music one can hear the influence of diverse musical styles (from rock, to jazz, through classical music). Despite their relative youth, the Motion Trio has already worked with such artists as Bobby McFerrin, Trilok Gurtu, Joe Zawinul, Tomasz Stańko, and Michał Urbaniak. They are the Grand Prix laureates of the 4th Edition of the Krzysztof Penderecki International Contemporary Chamber Music Competition. Their 3rd of 4 recorded CD's, Pictures From the Street, was met by considerable popular acclaim and was awarded the following honors: the Polish Music Industry's Grand Prix, Best Polish Recording in 2000, Top 2000, and Jazzi magazine's critics' choice of the Year. Polish music critics recognized the Motion Trio's debut as the best in Poland for 2000, which is borne out by their taking second place (after Tomasz Stańko) in Jazzi magazine's musician/group category. The group performs throughout Europe, as well as in Canada and the USA.
Thursday, May 31, 2007 at 8:00 PM
Skirball Cultural Center
“THE FANTASTIC FOUR”
The Edmonton Composers' Concert Society (ECCS) is privileged to announce the return of the Penderecki String Quartet to give the fifth concert of the current season of the Edmonton Composers' Concert Society Music Alberta Concert Series. On Friday, May 11, 2007, the PSQ, as they have come to be popularly known, will perform at Convocation Hall at the University of Alberta beginning at 8:00 p.m. The PSQ musicians will present five works, including three by ECCS members. Devoted almost exclusively to the music of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, the Quartet will perform great new works (also with electronics!) by Darlene Chepil Reid, Reinhard von Berg, Omar Daniel, Piotr Grella-Mozejko and Laurie Radford.
The stunning variety of works to be performed should leave a cautionary note to fans of the group – prepare to have your ears cleaned and your musical souls purged. You may never hear these works again, or if you do, they will never be interpreted in the manner that has characterized the performances of the PSQ. That's why we refer to them as “The Fantastic Four.”
For more details about the concert and the performers, please visit eccsociety.com.
POLISH CONTEMPORARY MUSIC FOR CELLO
This year, as a Junior Fellow at Trinity College of Music, cellist Evva Mizerska is preparing a series of concerts presenting some of the most interesting works of the Polish modern cello repertoire. The concert series, supported by the Polish Cultural Institute in London and the Joan Greenfield Trust, continue this spring and in the autumn at the College and at Blackheath Halls. One of the exciting features of this project is commissioning new works from five Polish composers of the young generation (Adam Falkiewicz, Aleksandra Gryka, Dobromila Jaskot, Weronika Ratusinska and Maciej Zielinski), which will be performed in the last concert of the series at Blackheath Halls in October 2007.
The third concert took place on the 24th of April, 7:30 pm at Trinity College of Music, Theatre Studio, and featured cello works by Jerzy Bauer, Hanna Kulenty, Piotr Moss and Marta Ptaszyńska as well as the British première of Miniatura (2001) by Olga Hans.The fourth concert, taking place on 11th May, 7 pm at Trinity College of Music, Peacock Room, will feature cello works by Zbigniew Bujarski, Andrzej Krzanowski, Witold Lutoslawski, Krzysztof Meyer, Tomasz Sikorski and Romuald Twardowski.
All of the concerts of the series include:
The cellist Evva Mizerska was born in Poland. In 2001 she graduated with distinction from the cello class at Frédéric Chopin Academy of Music in Warsaw. During the years 2001-2004 she completed the PGDip and MMus courses at Trinity College of Music in London, where she studied with Richard Markson and was awarded a full scholarship for three subsequent years from this institution
During 2000 Evva received the 1st Prize at the 7th International L. Janáček Competition in Brno, Czech Republic together with pianist Katarzyna Glensk. She was also awarded scholarships at Dartington Summer Music School, Kronberg Academy and for masterclasses during the 3rd World Cello Congress in Baltimore as one of forty young cellists from all over the world. In 2002 Evva was awarded the Joan Greenfield scholarship; during the same year she also won the Vivian Joseph Cello Prize and the Leonard Smith Duo Prize in London. In 2005 Evva received a grant-award from the Solti Foundation and in 2006 she became a Junior Fellow at Trinity College of Music in London.
To read more about the artist, visit the Polish Cultural Institute UK.
CHOPIN & FRIENDS
The annual “Chopin & Friends” concert will take place on May 12, 2007 at the Living Arts Centre in Mississauga in Ontario, Canada. This gala concert will be performed, as always, by distinguished guests from Poland and the Celebrity Symphony Orchestra conducted Maestro Andrzej Rozbicki. This year's honored performer is piano virtuoso Piotr Paleczny. The program will feature the most beautiful and entertaining music of F.Chopin, S.Moniuszko, W.Lutosławski, E.Elgar and Canada's own Walter Buczynski.
A professor at F.Chopin Academy in Warsaw, Piotr Paleczny is known around the world as a Chopin specialist and audiences flock to his performances to hear Chopin played by a master. He was the winner of the 3rd award VIII Fryderyk Chopin International Piano Competition in Warsaw in 1970, the same year he graduated from the Music Academy in Warsaw, having begun his higher studies at the Music Academy in Katowice.
Piotr Paleczny began his concert career while still during his studies. He performed with all of Poland's philharmonic and chamber orchestras as well as with the Chicago Symphony, Tonhalle Orchester In Zurich, Royal Philharmonic in London, Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, BBC Symphony Orchestra, Yomiuri Nippon, RAI, Santa Cecilia, Orquesta National de Mexico, Gewandhaus-Orchester and others.
He has performed in the most famous concert halls (Carnegie Hall, Teatro Real in Madrid, Suntory Hall in Tokyo, Teatro Colon in Buenos Aires, Royal Festival Hall in London and others) and has been a special guest at international music festivals in Holland (Flanders Festival), Prague, Lausanne, Berlin, Warszawa, San Antonio, Perth and Istanbul. As soloist with the Warszawa National Philharmonic Orchestra he has toured several times in England, Ireland, China, Japan, the USA, Germany and Switzerland. He performed Witold Lutosławski's Piano Concerto conducted by the composer himself.
Since 1997, Piotr Paleczny has been a professor of piano at the Chopin Music Academy in Warsaw. He has taught master's courses for pianists in Warsaw, Tokyo, Hamam and London. He has served on the juries of international piano competition in Paris, Santander, Tokyo, Prague, Cleveland, Hamam and Warsaw (Chopin Competition 1985, 1990, 1995, 2000). Since 1993, the pianist has been director of the International Chopin Festival in Duszniki Zdrój.
ADA SARI VOCAL COMPETITION
Ada Sari (1886-1968) was a famous Polish coloratura soprano whose wide-ranging repertoire and voice were heard in all of the major houses throughout Europe and the U.S. This International Ada Sari Vocal Competition and the accompanying Festival of Vocal Art is dedicated to her legacy.
Eighty-one artists from twelve countries have signed up to participate in this year's 12th edition. The competition will take place between May 19 and 27 in Małopolskie Culture Center “Sokół” in Nowy Sącz. The jury consists of Luigi Alva (Italy), Eva Blahova (Slovakia), Joanna Borowska (Austria/Poland), Josef Hussek (Austria), Stanisław Daniel Kotliński (Poland/Italy), Magdalena Krzyńska (Poland), Helena Łazarska (Austria/Poland), Wojciech Maciejowski (Poland), Dariusz Niemirowicz (Austria/Poland) and Eugeniusz Sąsiadek (Poland). This year regulations allow for more freedom in selection of the repertoire by the participants, but they must include one Polish song, one Mozart song and one contemporary song. In the final round they have to sing two opera arias with an orchestra. For more information, in Polish only, please visit the official website of the competition: www.mcksokol.pl/322,program_2007.htm.
SZWALBE STATUE IN BYDGOSZCZ
Andrzej Szwalbe, who served as the director and creator of the Pomeranian Philharmonic for 40 years, was recently commemorated with a life-size statue placed in the square in front of the Philharmonic Hall in Bydgoszcz. Andrzej Szwalbe was born in Warsaw and moved to Bydgoszcz in 1946, where he was appointed the director of Pomeranian Philharmonic in 1951 and held the position for 40 years. He was responsible for building the new concert hall in the 1950s and its acoustics are praised as some of the best in Europe. He was an active promoter and propagator of cultural life in Bydgoszcz and the surrounding region. After retiring in 1991, he was named an honorary director of the institution and, in 1993, he was named an Honorary Citizen by the city of Bydgoszcz. He died in 2002. The unveiling of the statue was a part of celebration of the 661st anniversary of Bydgoszcz's official status as a city.
The Fryderyks, the awards given by the Polish phonographic industry much like the American Grammys, were awarded on April 17, 2007 in Warsaw during a two-part ceremony. Pop/Rock awards were given in Fabryka Trzciny in Warsaw and Classical/Jazz categories were announced in Salezjan's Basilic in Warsaw. The lifetime achievement awards were given to saxophonist Jan “Ptaszyn” Wróblewski and singer Irena Santor. The following artists were honored in the classical and jazz categories:
Album of the Year – Early Music:
MONIUSZKO COMPETITION RESULTS
On Sunday, April 22, 2007 the 6th International Moniuszko Vocal Competition was concluded at the Teatr Wielki-Polish National Opera in Warsaw. The jury was led by Kazimierz Kord, former Music and General Director of the opera. The following awards were given:
On April 25th, the Polish Composer's Union (ZKP) announced the winners of the annual ZKP Awards. This year the jury; consisting of Rafał Augustyn, Zbigniew Bagiński, J. Katarzyna Dadak-Kozicka, and Krzysztof Droba gave awards to the following three people:
Father Karol Mrowiec – for fundamental research of Polish sacred music
Elżbieta Szczepańska-Lange – for inspirational essays and competent following of Polish musical life
Lidia Zielińska – for outstanding achievements in composition
The awards ceremony will take place in September at the Royal Castle in Warsaw during the 50th annual Warsaw Autumn Festival.
The “Gaude Mater” International Festival of Sacred Music will take place in Częstochowa between May 1 and 6. This annual festival is one of the more important musical events in Poland. The organizers expect almost 800 performers from around the world. The program includes concerts of Flemish, Armian and Argentinean music as well as sacred flamenco songs and baroque music from the Jasna Góra vault. The festival will be opened with a performance of Mendelssohn's 2nd Symphony and will close with Brahms' Ein deutsches Requiem. A special place during the festival is reserved for Polish music—there will be multiple concerts, including premiere performances of works by Paweł Sydor, Krzesimir Dębski, Sławomir Czarnecki, Marcin Kopczyński, Zbigniew Kozub and Henryk Mikołaj Górecki. During the festival an awards ceremony will also be held for the winners of the International Composition Competition “Musica Sacra.” All festival events will take place inside churches and concert venues around Częstochowa. More details and a complete schedule of events are available in English and Polish at www.gaudemater.pl
MUSICA ELECTRONICA NOVA FESTIVAL
The second edition of this festival will take place in Wrocław between May 18 and 26. The festival is dedicated to music created or aided by the most contemporary technological advancements: computers, samples, software, etc. It is geared towards young audiences but also towards all listeners looking for a new musical experience. This year's edition includes such names as: Arditti Quartet, Anssi Kartunnen, Camilla Hoitenga, Garth Knox, Alter Ego, Andrzej Bauer, and the Aukso Chamber Orchestra conducted by Marek Moś. Also from a different genre of electronic music: Scanner, Pan Sonic, Kazuhisa Uchihashi, and, praised for the visual production of artistic events, D-Fuse group. The honorary guest this year is one of the most renowned Finnish living composers, Kaija Saariaho; this festival marks the first time that her art will be presented in Poland.
For more information about the festival and for the detailed calendar of events please visit the official website of the festival, www.musican.aprom.pl/electronica.html
WARSAW MUSIC MEETINGS
The 21st edition of the Warsaw Music Meetings will be held between May 5 and 13. The festival is organized by ZKP [Polish Composer's Union] with the help of Polish Radio Channel 2, the Mazovian Culture Centre and the Warsaw Royal Castle. The festival is financed by the City of Warsaw, the Ministry of Culture and ZAIKS. The festival has been organized by the Warsaw chapter of ZKP since 1986 and focuses on classical music, both old and new. For the program of this year's edition please visit the ZKP website.
The 14th edition of the festival dedicated to music of the Baltic countries was opened on May 1 with the concert version of Ludomir Różycki's opera, Bolesław Śmiały. In celebration of the Szymanowski year, the European Symphony Orchestra (combined chamber groups from Latvia, Lithuania, Sweden and Poland) will perform his works. Also scheduled to perform are: Latvian Chamber Orchestra from Liepaj, Novogrod Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra, Lithuanian National Symphony Orchestra from Wilno, Gotlands Blasarkvintett and Visby Jazz Trio from Sweden, Finnish organist Dann Lonquist, Avanti Chamber Ensemble from Finland and Tresafinato from Denmark. Poland will be represented by laureate of the recent Wieniawski competition, Anna Maria Staśkiewicz, the Sinfonietta Cracovia with Krzysztof Penderecki and the National Philharmonic with Antoni Wit. The festival will continue until May 27. For information about festival please visit the official website, www.probaltica.art.pl
On March 20, Nonesuch Records released "...songs are sung", the Kronos Quartet's recording of Polish composer Henryk Górecki's long-awaited Third String Quartet. Though he wrote the work for Kronos in 1995, Górecki held on to this 50-minute magnum opus for more than a decade before releasing it to the world. In a commentary attached to the score, he says simply, "I don't know why." The work's title is inspired by the last line of a poem by the Russian writer Velimir Khlebnikov: "When people die, they sing songs."
SZYMANOWSKI ACCORDING TO FANFARE
Karol Szymanowski: The Complete Mazurkas Op. 50 & Op. 62 for Piano
Kaoru Bingham, piano
Meridian CDE 84323
Although not rejected outright by any means, these two releases of Szymanowski's music were coolly received by Fanfare reviewers this month (March/April 2007, p. 235-237). In fact, in all three reviews, there was a sentiment that Szymanowski's intricate and challenging music is best interpreted by his fellow Poles.
In reviewing the “Complete Mazurkas,” Adrian Corleonis largely disregards Kaoru Bingham's playing on the disc in question for most of the review. Instead, he immediately points to the another recording of these same mazurkas by Anna Kijanowska (DUX 0417) as superior to any other interpretations that came before or after hers in this era of popularity for Szymanowski.
As for the Rattle recording of Szymanowski songs, the feelings of reviewers Adrian Corleonis and Barry Brenesal are a bit more mixed. Any reviewer or listener of this recording can appreciate Maesto Rattle's unquestionable skill as a conductor as well as his passion for and dedication to Szymanowski's music, which he has demonstrated by engaging in a multiple-CD collaboration with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra dedicated to the composer. What the Maestro seems to lack is, unfortunately, something completely out of his control: a Polish soul. Both reviewers compare the Harnasie recording to that of Antoni Wit/Cracow Radio Orchestra recording of the same opera (EMI Classics 85539), with Corleonis calling Rattle's interpretation “gentlemanly, prim, precise, as if he never slipped off his kid gloves”–rather inappropriate for the “fracas-fraught rustic hoedown” suggested by the opera's lyrics. As for the song cycles (Songs of a Fairytale Princess and Love Songs of the Hafiz), Brenesal points out that “a simple comparison of this disc with the same two cycles on Naxos 8.553688 [featuring Jadwiga Gadulanka, sop., Ryszard Minkiewicz, ten., and Karol Stryja, cond.] shows precisely what Rattle and his associates miss…[I]n this case, it's the Poles that know what to do with the music.” Corleonis sums up the mixed reviews with this: “Szymanowski, especially in his final, folkloric, [sic] phase, remains, for Westerners, in some essentials, elusive. Nevertheless, Rattle's aplomb carries the day and this performance gives pleasure.” Carl Bauman of American Record Guide mostly disagrees with these other reviewers, saying, “Aside from Sobotka's vocal quality [in the Songs of a Fairytale Princess], this is definitely the best choice for these three works.” (March/April 2007, p. 169) Unfortunately, it also seems to be the only choice including all three.
Litanie Ostrobramskie [Litanies of Ostra Brama]
This recording presents a different side of the Father of Polish Opera than that with which audiences are normally presented. According to Evan Dickerson of Fanfare (March/April 2007, p. 165), “This important release CD from Accord, the Polish subsidiary of Universal Music, aims to rectify the situation [of Moniuszko's sacred repertoire having been largely overlooked] by presenting the finest examples of Moniuszko's church music.” Read more about Moniuszko and this ground-breaking recording on the CD Accord website.
TANSMAN SYMPHONIES SERIES
Tansman Symphonies, Volume 1
The Polish-born Tansman enjoyed considerable international success during his career as composer, pianist and conductor. He received numerous international honours and was championed by leading conductors and soloists, including Stokowski, Ormandy, and Szigeti. Yet, since Tansman's death, his music has been largely neglected and is only now beginning to receive renewed attention. This is the first disc in a complete symphonic cycle and includes the world premiere recording of Symphony No. 6.
According to American Record Guide (September/October 2006, p. 216) :
Chopin: Piano Sonata No. 2 Op. 35 & 4 Scherzos
Simon Trpčeski, piano
Simon Trpčeski, whose Rachmaninov recital disc met with universal critical acclaim, has recorded an all-Chopin programme featuring the Four Scherzos and the Sonata No. 2 in B-flat Minor. Trpčeski, who has been described as “perhaps the most exciting pianistic talent to emerge on the international scene in recent years,” feels a close connection to Chopin and has said he believes that his own Slavic temperament and romantic disposition complement the composer's personality. [from the EMI website]
In the March 2007 edition, BBC Music Magazine gives this recording 5 stars for both performance and sound! Reviewer Jessica Duchen finds, “something ideal in the intimacy of Trpčeski's identification with the music and the beauty he finds in the breadth of contrast between nightmare and reverie.” (p. 80)
Chopin, Summer in Nohant
According to BBC Music Magazine reviewer Tim Parry, “Hand pick a mixed-genre disc of Chopin, and you'd be unlikely to come up with a selection of greater music than this.” Yet, the overall review of the recording is only lukewarm. “[Jones's] playing has a lyrical elegance and unselfconscious purity of expression…[yet] Jones doesn't always fully engage with the richness of these works.” (March 2007, p. 80)
Grażyna Bacewicz: Sonatas for Violin & Piano
Ewa Kupiec, piano and Piotr Pławner, violin
Hänssler Verlag Doppel-CD Art.-No.: 093.117.000
Although Fanfare reviewer Jerry Dubins admits to having regarded many 20th century compositions as “fingernails-on-the-chalkboard music,” he has a much different opinion of this 2-CD collection of pieces for piano and violin by Grażyna Bacewicz (1909-1969). In his review from the March/April 2007 edition (p. 59), Dubins has the highest of praise for both composer and performers:
Axoum: New Music for Marimba
Axoum Duo (Elwira Ślązak, marimba and Gabriel Collet, marimba)
A. Miyoshi – Etude Concertante, V. Zouhar – Duny, J.M. Lopez – African Winds, Marta Ptaszyńska – Scintilla for two marimbaphones, J. van Landeghem – Sohum & Shakti
The Axoum Duo is the winner of the 8th International Contemporary Chamber Music Competition in Kraków and numerous other grants and honors. The duo is one of the few dedicated to marimba duets only, and promoting the two-marimba repertoire. The CD includes a few world premiere recordings, including Scintilla by Marta Ptaszyńska. To find out more about the Duo and to buy the CD, please visit the official website of the Axoum Duo.
The Edmonton Composers' Concert Society presented a program featuring many Polish, Canadian, and U.S. composers on January 28th, 2007 at the University of Alberta. The program included the following compositions:
This diverse and interesting music was performed by an equally unique performance group: Trio sTREga. Trio sTREga was born out of passionate longing for contemporary music (stregato, in Italian, denotes someone mad with love, and strega, in the same language, means sorceress) shared by three international students who met while completing their Doctoral Degrees at the University of British Columbia. The unique cultural background of each of the Trio's members (Kasia Marczak, clarinet, from Poland; Roberta Bottelli, cello, from Canada; and Erika Crino, piano, from Italy) is reflected in their preference for repertoire representative of and associated with their homelands, yet without neglecting the Canadian repertoire. The Trio is interested in exploring the most recent repertoire as well as promoting the creation of new works. For more information about the artists, please visit the website of the Edmonton Composers' Concert Society, eccsociety.com.
Andrzej Kurylewicz was a pioneer of jazz in Poland and a very well known composer and conductor. He was fascinated with the idea of combining avant-garde music and jazz and thus created “Contemporary Music Formation,” a group for which he wrote and arranged and with which he performed in Poland and abroad for 10 years during the 1960s and 70s. At the same time he was an accomplished composer of film, TV and theater music. Beginning in 1980, he dedicated his creative energy to writing classical music and classical piano performance. The President of the Republic of Poland, Lech Kaczyński, has awarded Kurylewicz, post-mortem, with the Officer's Honor Cross for the Rebirth of Poland. The medal was presented to composer's family by the first lady, Maria Kaczyńska. He was 75 years old and is buried in the Powązki cemetery.
BORN THIS MONTH:
Copyright 2007 by the Polish Music Center
Send your comments and inquiries to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Newsletter Editor: Krysta Close
Assistant Editor: Daniel Kamiński
Contributions from: Marek Żebrowski,
Piotr Grella-Mozejko, Evva Mizerska,
Vincent P. Skowronski ,and Daniel J. Kij
Sources of information: Polish Cultural Institute (NY & UK), Adam Mickiewicz Institute, Fanfare, American Record Guide,
PWM, Nowy Dziennik, Polish Music Information Centre, Polish American Journal, PAP, BBC Music Magazine,
infochopin.pl, Gramophone Magazine, Classics Today, BBC Music Magazine, Philadelphia Inquirer,
ZKP, Opera News, CD Accord Editions, Chandos Records, EMI Records
Formatting by Krysta Close, May 4, 2007
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