|Polish Music Newsletter|
USC CELEBRATES PADEREWSKI AT 150
Several events commemorating Paderewski’s 150th birthday anniversary were held on November 4-5, 2010 at the University of Southern California. Together with the USC Libraries, the Polish Music Center in the Thornton School of Music prepared an exhibit of Paderewski’s memorabilia. Entitled “Paderewski: The Modern Immortal,” it was officially opened by Catherine Quinlan, Dean of the USC Libraries, on November 4 at 5:30 p.m. Organized around the topics including Paderewski’s life in music, political career, links to California, and private life, the exhibit also features a short display on Poland’s history and Paderewski’s impact on popular culture. Many extraordinarily rare and never-before seen items—including personal possessions, correspondence, photographs, and Paderewski’s concert programs—are on display in the Treasure Room of Doheny Library until May 31, 2011.
Read an article about the exhibit here: uscnews.usc.edu/arts.
The festive exhibit opening and reception was followed by the annual Paderewski Lecture-Recital, held just next door in Newman Recital Hall. Dr. Małgorzata Perkowska-Waszek, a preeminent Paderewski scholar and author of numerous books on his life and works, delivered a lecture entitled “Paderewski and His Muses.” Based on the newly-discovered correspondence of young Paderewski, Dr. Perkowska-Waszek drew a fascinating portrait of Paderewski’s relationships with several women to whom he dedicated his compositions. Her lecture was illustrated with slides from the collection of the Jagiellonian University in Kraków, where she has worked as musicologist for the past 35 years.
The second half of the Newman Hall event was filled by British-born pianist, Jonathan Plowright. His program included the rarely-heard Miscellanea, Op. 16 by Paderewski and Chopin’s towering Fantaisie, Op. 49. Mr. Plowright’s repertoire thus paid homage not only to Paderewski’s anniversary, but also to Chopin’s bicentennial as well. Mr. Plowright’s sparkling virtuosity and solid musicianship elicited a standing ovation from the audience.
On Friday, November 5, a panel discussion entitled “What Makes a Man Immortal?” examined Paderewski’s legacy as pianist, composer, politician and humanitarian. Held in the Friends of the USC Libraries Memorial Hall, it featured Professor Kevin Starr—an eminent California historian and scholar, Nick Cull—Professor of Public Diplomacy at USC’s Annenberg School, Dr. Perkowska-Waszek and pianist Jonathan Plowright. Presentations by the four panelists were followed by lively discussion and a repartee of questions and answers with the assembled audience.
See the official Press Release for details on all events: www.usc.edu/uscnews.
PADEREWSKI FESTIVAL IN PASO ROBLES, NOV 10-14
The Paderewski at 150 Celebrations in California that started at USC in Los Angeles will continue on the Central Coast with the Paderewski Festival in Paso Robles. It all begins with a “Festival Prelude” concert at Vina Robles Winery on November 10, where two young Polish pianists, visiting Central Coast on the Paso Robles-Province of Tarnów exchange program will present an evening of works by Paderewski, Chopin, Bach, Haydn, and Moszkowski. Other performers and presenters include: the Paso Robles High School Band and Choir, Midnight Winds, Krzesimir Dębski, Anna Jurksztowicz, John Storie, Dr. Małgorzata Perkowska-Waszek, Jonathan Plowright, and the winners’ of the 2010 Paderewski Festival Youth Piano Competition.
In the mid 1930s, Paderewski expressed a wish to establish free music education for talented youth in Paso Robles, a community where he once owned large ranches with vineyards and almond groves. This year’s anniversary edition of the Festival will honor Paderewski’s initiative to bring music to fellow Californians by making all concerts during the 2010 Paderewski Festival in Paso Robles free of charge. To accommodate the highest possible number of concertgoers, reservations are strongly suggested by proceeding to reserve free tickets here. Otherwise, seating will be on a first-come basis.
Melissa Chavez writes about the great former resident of Paso Robles in this month’s issue of the Paso Robles Magazine. Her tribute begins:
To continue reading this fascinating historical summary as well as an overview of the events of this year’s Festival, vist: www.pasoroblesmagazine.com/pdf/2010.11.paderewski.pdf.
CHOPIN & PADEREWSKI YEAR
CHOPIN COMPETITION RESULTS
The 16th International Chopin Competition in Warsaw has finally come to its triumphant conclusion. The Jury of this much anticipated anniversary edition of the competition was lead by Jan Ekier - honorable chairman, Andrzej Jasiński – chairman, and Piotr Paleczny - vice-chairman, and also included the following internationally renowned pianists: Martha Argerich, Bella Davidovich, Philippe Entremont, Nelson Freire, Adam Harasiewicz, Kevin Kenner, Michie Koyama, Katarzyna Popowa-Zydroń, Dang Thai Son, and Fou Ts’Ong. Shortly before midnight on Wednesday, 21 October 2010, the Jury announced the following results:
Distinctions (in alphabetical order):
Below is an excerpt from the Chopin Express, the official, bilingual newspaper of the 16th International Fryderyk Chopin Piano Competition, which was published daily during the Competition. In his review of the final outcome of the competition, British music critic John Allison remarks that “when it was delivered shortly before midnight on Wednesday, the verdict surprised some, but it should not be seen as controversial.” His review continues below:
The 8th International Paderewski Piano Competition begins in Bydgoszcz on November 6, 2010 – the 150th anniversary of the birth of Ignacy Jan Paderewski. This year’s anniversary of Paderewski’s birth turns this event into a veritable Paderewski celebration. 46 pianists from 13 countries were chosen to participate after a process of auditions held during last May in Moscow, Hanover, London, New York, and Warsaw.
The contestants will compete for the First Prize of 30,000 Euros. The jury, led by Polish pianist Piotr Paleczny, will include Alexander Braginsky (USA), Andrea Bonatta (Italy), Peter Frankl (United Kingdom), Bernd Goetzke (Germany), Choong-Mo Kang (Korea), Heinz Medjimorec (Austria), Noriko Ogawa (Japan), Katarzyna Popowa-Zydroń (Poland), Wojciech Świtała (Poland) and Michaił Voskresenskiy (Russia). The winners will be announced on November 20, and their concert is scheduled for the following day. The same program will be repeated on November 24 at a concert in the National Philharmonic Hall in Warsaw.
Below is an excerpt written by Piotr Paleczny, Artistic Director of the Paderewski Competition, for the final edition of Chopin Express, Issue 23:
Organized by the I.J. Paderewski Musical Society in Bydgoszcz and General Director Henryk Martenka, the Paderewski Competition is also supported by the Music Academy and the Pomeranian Philharmonic in Bydgoszcz.
CHOPIN & IJP EVENTS IN CHICAGO
Chopin & Paderewski 2010: An Evening of Music and Reflection
On Friday, November 12, Chopin & Paderewski 2010 presents a rich program of music and reflection on Fryderyk Chopin and Ignacy Jan Paderewski in the elegant surroundings of the historic Newberry Library in Chicago to honor the 150th Anniversary of the birth of Ignacy Jan Paderewski and the 200th Anniversary of the birth of Fryderyk Chopin.
Organized by the Paderewski Association and the Organizing Committee Chopin & Paderewski 2010 and held at the Newberry Library, the special evening features the Chicago recital debut of the young pianist, Jan Milosz Lisiecki, an extraordinary talent hailed by critics worldwide for his mature playing which reflects remarkable intuitive interpretation. The renowned American music critic Richard Dyer will give an intriguing lecture on Ignacy Jan Paderewski, entitled "Some Call It Hair…” A major highlight of the event will be the unique opportunity to view the original score handwritten by Chopin in the mid-1840s of the Nocturne in B major, Op. 62 no. 1 from the Newberry Library collection, as well as Paderewski memorabilia and documents.
Critics call 15-year-old Jan Milosz Lisiecki an “aristocrat of the piano,” an “extraordinary talent,” “one of the most sensational young artists”, and praise him for “poetic and imaginatively executed playing”. According to the July 2010 BBC Music Magazine, Jan "is perhaps the most 'complete' pianist of his age.” The Canadian born Lisiecki made his orchestral debut at the age of 9 and has since given over 50 performances with orchestras worldwide. Trained at the Mount Royal Conservatory in Calgary, he is the recipient of many prestigious awards including the 2010 Debut Atlantic and the 2010 CBC Révélations Radio-Canada Musique; he is a prize winner in seven international music competitions in the USA, Europe, and Japan. On January 1, 2010, Mr. Lisiecki had the honor of opening the 200th
Richard Dyer was chief music critic for the Boston Globe for thirty-three years and is a two-time recipient of the ASCAP Deems Taylor Award for distinguished music criticism. A former Briggs-Copeland Lecturer at Harvard University, Mr. Dyer’s work appears in the New Grove Dictionary of American Music, the Metropolitan Opera Encyclopedia of Opera, and the Encyclopedia Americana. He was recently awarded an honorary doctorate by the New England Conservatory and served on the 2009 jury of the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition.
Chopin & Paderewski 2010 International Conference
The Polish Studies Program of Loyola University Chicago’s College of Arts & Sciences presents the Chopin & Paderewski 2010 International Conference. The conference will be held on November 12-13, 2010, at Loyola University in Chicago.
The multiple goals of the conference are: to explore Fryderyk Chopin as a composer, a master of Romantic music, and patriot; to look at Ignacy Jan Paderewski as a pianist, composer, philanthropist, diplomat, politician, and Prime Minister of the Republic of Poland; and to place Chopin, Paderewski, and Poland’s struggle for independence in the context of American and world culture and politics of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. All lectures are open to the public and free of charge.
Participants in the Conference include international scholars, historians, professors, critics, journalists, authors, poets, musicians and performers, such as Polish musicologists Irena Poniatowska, PhD and Boguslaw Raba, PhD, and local Chicago historians Dr. Dominik Pacyga and Mira Creech, PhD. The conference will end with a concert at Loyola’s Mundelein Center Auditorium at 7:30 p.m. on November 13, featuring:
For a full list of the participants and the schedule of events, visit: www.chopin-paderewski.org/loyola.htm
Chopin & Paderewski in Film
Chicago’s 22nd Polish Film Festival in America will take place from November 5 to 21, 2010. During that time, the Festival and Chicago’s Society for Arts will present VIVA CHOPIN! and VIVA PADEREWSKI!, two series of films about these Polish composers who celebrate their anniversaries in 2010. Film screenings of films about Chopin and Paderewski will take place between November 13-21. Visit www.pffamerica.com/list_of_films.htm for details and to purchase tickets.
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For all Chopin & Paderewski 2010 - Chicago events and information, got to www.chopin-paderewski.org/events.htm
CAMARATA PACIFICA EXPLORES CHOPIN
Camerata Pacifica is a chamber music ensemble based in Santa Barbara that performs a monthly series of concerts in Santa Barbara, Ventura, San Marino, and Zipper Hall in Downtown Los Angeles. Founded by Adrian Spence in 1990, the group is composed of the finest performers of chamber music from around the world. The ensemble is distinctive for artistic excellence, an innovative approach to classical music and a repertoire that ranges from baroque to brand new, from familiar masterworks to works that have yet to become favorites. With the stated mission "To affect positively how people experience live performances of classical music," the organization strives to engage its audience intellectually and emotionally by presenting the finest performances of familiar and lesser-known masterworks in venues that emphasize intimacy and a personal connection with the music and musicians.
American pianist Adam Neiman (pictured at right) has immediately become a favorite with Camerata Pacifica audiences. During his last visit Adam was overheard playing a Chopin Ballade, which was spontaneously added to the program. Adam's deep affinity for and knowledge of Chopin is clear, and during Camerata Pacifica’s next “SpeakEasy” event, he will take the audience on an exploration of the composer's life and music. Watch a fascinating discussion about Chopin between Adam Neiman and CP Artistic Director Adrian Spence here: www.instantencore.com.
Camerata Pacifica's SpeakEasy are relaxed, informal discussion events — a forum to get all of those questions answered that you can't ask in a concert hall.
IJP IN D.C.
On Thursday, November 11, the Kosciuszko Foundation’s Washington D.C. chapter will present a Tribute to I. J. Paderewski Concert, featuring Jeffrey and Olivia Ly. Jeffrey Ly (age 15) began his music studies at the age of 5 and Olivia Ly (age 13) began her music studies at the age of 3 at the European Academy of Music and Art (EAMA), Inc., Maryland with Professor, Dr. Bella E. Oster and Professor Roberto Perez. During their ten years of music education, the siblings have performed numerous solo piano concerts at many prestigious venues including government institutions such as White House, United Nations, State Department, U.S. Capitol, Pentagon, numerous embassies in Washington, DC, National of Institutes of Health as well as veteran, elderly, and children hospitals; Olivia and Jeffrey had also played at cultural houses such as Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie, NY; the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Lincoln Center, Strathmore, Goethe Institut, NY; and universities including Harvard, Columbia, Georgetown, and Cornell.
PADEREWSKI IN ZAKOPANE
On November 13 in Zakopane, Poland, the Tatrzańska Orkiestra Klimatyczna, or the “Tatra Mood Orchestra,” will present a Paderewski Birthday Concert. Additional performers include: Agnieszka Kreiner – conductor, Cezary Kwapisz and Michał Białk – piano duet, Renata Guzik – flute, and Krzysztof Łakomik – actor. The program of the concert consists of Chopin’s Andante spianato et grande polonaise brilliante, as well as Paderewski’s Gypsies’ March from the opera Manru, Album Tatrzańskie, and the Menuet in G Major, op. 14. Portions of Paderewski’s diaries and speeches will also be read, and patriotic Polish songs will be sung.
MIDORI PLAYS SZYMANOWSKI
On Sunday, November 21, the Los Angeles Philharmonic presents violinist Midori Goto in recital at the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles. Midori’s recital partner will be pianist Robert McDonald. The program for the evening is Mozart: Sonata for Piano and Violin No. 1 in G Major, K.301; Bartók: Sonata for Violin and Piano No. 1, Sz. 75; Bach: Sonata for Violin Solo No. 2 in A minor, BWV 1003; Crumb: Four Nocturnes (Night Music II) for Violin and Piano; and Szymanowski: Nocturne and Tarantella for Violin and Piano, Op. 28.
Building on an already extraordinary career, legendary violinist and USC Thornton School of Music professor Midori is achieving greater and greater artistic heights – as soloist, recitalist, collaborator and teacher. She has long shown her dedication to Polish music, through her performances of such pieces as Penderecki’s Second Sonata for Violin and Piano at the PMC’s Polish Music Spring concert in March 2008 and collaborations with various Polish orchestras.
POLANSKI SHORT FILMS & SZA/ZA
Before making beloved classics like Chinatown, Rosemary’s Baby and Repulsion, Roman Polanski cut his teeth on a series of short films shot in the late ‘50s and early ‘60s, produced mostly at the renowned Łódź Film School in Poland. From the playful filmmaking exercises Murder and Teeth Smile (1957), through the metaphorical Break Up the Dance (1957) and Mammals (1962) to his award-winning graduation film, Two Men and A Wardrobe (1958), these films reveal Polanski’s surreal and dark style, his masterful storytelling ability, and the restless search for the truth about human nature—however crooked and evil it would turn out to be.
A key ingredient to the genius of these shorts is their unpredictable music scores, often written by Polish jazz pioneer Krzysztof Komeda. This legendary alchemy will be showcased in events presenting Polanski’s early works in 35mm with live accompaniment by the Polish electroacoustic duo Sza/Za -- whose use of clarinets, violin, analog loopstations, subtle effects and interaction with the audience both pays tribute to the work of the late Mr. Komeda, and takes these seminal films in intoxicating new directions!
These performances will be on tour of the U.S. from November 2-14, with shows in: New York City, Ithaca, Austin, Boulder, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Washington, D.C. and Chicago. For all tour details, visit www.polishculture-nyc.org. Below is the information for the California performances:
SZYMANOWSKI QUARTET IN O.C.
On Thursday, November 11, the Orange County Performing Arts Center presents the acclaimed Szymanowski Quartet—Andrej Bielow - violin, Grzegorz Kotów - violin, Vladimir Mykyta - viola, and Marcin Sieniawski – cello. The Quartet will perform Szymanowski’s Nocturne and Tarantella, Op. 28, as well as Schubert’s Quartettsatz in C minor, D.703 and String Quartet D minor, D.810, "Death & The Maiden," and Beethoven’s String Quartet in B Major, Op. 18/6.
WHITE EAGLE FOR JAN EKIER
On Thursday, 21 October 2010, Polish President Bronisław Komorowski awarded Professor Jan Ekier with the Order of White Eagle for his outstanding contributions to Polish culture. The ceremony was held at the Presidential Palace.
WIT & WOJNAROWSKI HONORED WITH NORWID PRIZE
On Monday, September 27 during a gala at the Royal Castle in Warsaw, conductor Antoni Wit was awarded the Cyprian Kamil Norwid Prize for his “Lifetime Achievement” in music. The award was presented by Provincial Assembly Chairman Robert Soszyńskiego and Marshal Adam Struzik of the Mazowsze voivodship government. Maestro Wit has been the Managing and Artistic Director of Warsaw National Philharmonic since January 2002.
Conductor Henryk Wojnarowski was also awarded the 2010 Norwid Prize in music, for his two-volume recording of Stanislaw Moniuszko’s Masses, recorded with the Orchestra and Choir of the Warsaw National Philharmonic. These recordings are available on DUX Records, nos. 0657 and 0720. These recordings have also won the Fryderyk 2009 and Orphées d’or 2010 Awards, respectively. Maestro Wojnarowski has been Choirmaster of the Warsaw Philharmonic Choir since 1978 and has worked with the choir for over fifty years.
FESTIVAL OF POLISH MUSIC
The Sixth Annual Festival of Polish Music [Festiwal Muzyki Polskiej] in Kraków will take place from November 5-11. This Festival is Poland's biggest classical music festival devoted entirely to the works of Polish composers, presenting a cross-section of Polish classical music from different epochs, from medieval to present times. This year’s program features the London Sinfonietta—a British early music group, the Retrospect Ensemble, the Hugo Wolff Quartet from Vienna, and the Baltic Opera, which will present Moniuszko’s Halka.
The opening night concert features Krakow’s Karol Szymanowski Philharmonic Orchestra performing in their Hall with soprano Agata Zubel, trumpeter Marco Blaauw and pianist Francois Dumont, the Fifth Place prizewinner in the recent International Chopin Competition. The program is Justyna Kowalska’s Fanfara (2009), Karol Szymanowski’s Three Songs Op. 31 for soprano and orchestra (1933), Agata Zubel’s Symphony No. 5 for a double trumpet and orchestra (2010) and Chopin’s Piano Concerto in E minor. The following evening’s program features the other end of the spectrum, with music by Mikołaj Zieleński and other Baroque composers performed by soprano Emma Kirkby, bass Joel Frederiksen, and organist Jan Tomasz Adamus at the Franciscan Friars’ Church. Other concerts include a program featuring this year’s FMP commission, Michał Jakub Papara’s A Poem from a book of dreams and imaginations, as well as Zygmunt Krauze’s Quatuor pour la naissance, Marek Stachowski’s Mirroir du temp, and Henryk Mikołaj Górecki’s Recitatives and ariosos “Lerchenmusik” op. 53, performed by the London Sinfonietta.
A full schedule of all concerts is available www.krakow-info.com.
MUSICAL CONFRONTATIONS FESTIVAL
The 11th edition of Musical Confrontations Festival will be held Nov. 7 - Dec. 12 at Stawisko, the manor house on the outskirts of Warsaw, the former residence of poet Jarosław Iwaszkiewicz and his wife, Anna (pictured at left). The theme of this year’s festival is “Polish music from Chopin to Lutosławski,” with solo and chamber music from the Romantic era to the present will be featured, including works by Julisz Zarębski, Henryk Wieniawski, Mieczysław Karłowicz, Karol Szymanowski, and Henryk Mikołaj Górecki.
A number of well-known artists, including Szabolcs Esztényi, Piotr Pławner, Maria Szwajger-Kułakowska, Jadwiga Rappe, Mariusz Rutkowski, the Wilanów String Quartet and the Royal String Quartet will be among the featured performers. Joanna Freszel and Marek Bracha will represent the youngest generation of musicians. In addition, meetings with performers (including those representing fringe music groups that adapted Chopin’s music) are planned. An exhibit of paintings by Hilary Krzysztofiak (1926-1979) and poetry readings featuring works by Jarosław Iwaszkiewicz will augment the offerings of this year’s festival.
MUSIC AT THE SOURCE FESTIVAL
Music at the Source [Muzyka u Źródeł] Festival will be held in Bydgoszcz November 6-20. The Barock Quartet is the organizer of this year’s edition, which is entitled “Magical Music and Space.” Sponsored by the Bydgoszcz Department of Water, the festival will be held in a venue listed on the National Register of Historic places—an old pump house built around several mineral water wells. The space boasts of excellent acoustics and is an ideal place for chamber music concerts.
The opening night program on November 6 will include a string quartet arrangement of Chopin’s Nocturne Op. 9 no. 2 and Józef Elsner’s D minor string quartet, as well as rarely performed String Octet Op. 17 by Niels Gade. A brass quintet from the National Radio Symphony Orchestra (NOSPR) in Katowice will present music by Gyorgy Ligeti and Gustav Holst and join the string players in Spohr’s Nonet on November 7. Violinist Jan Stanienda will be joined by his son, Krzysztof, in a program of violin and piano music on Nov. 13, and the following night the string sextets by Brahms (Op. 18) and Schoenberg (Verklaerte Nacht, Op. 4) will be heard. The closing concert, planned for November 20, will feature music from the Polish jazz and pop tradition.
ARS CAMERALIS FESTIVAL
This year’s Ars Cameralis Festival will take place from November 6-25. As always, the Festival will present the most fascinating occurrences in all forms of art, when known artists and emerging ones rouse, once a year, to the admiration of the public in many cities of the Silesian Voivodship.
Each alternating Festival edition is the unique occasion to meet with something unusual, with arts that will leave no one remaining indifferent. This year’s edition focuses on the art of filmmaking. The Inaugural Concert on November 6 features the film music of Roque Baños, performed by the AUKSO Chamber Orchestra of the City of Tychy and the CAMERATA SILESIA Chorus of the City of Katowice.
For a full schedule of this eclectic festival, visit: cameralis.art.pl.
BEING PROPITIOUS WHEN REMEMBERING PADEREWSKI
A Review by Joseph A. Herter
The 150th anniversary of Paderewski’s birth was marked in Warsaw not only with concert version performances of the composer’s only opera, Manru, at the Warsaw National Philharmonic on November 6 and 7, but also with two Paderewski chamber music concerts. One was held under the auspices of the American Embassy and the Piotr Janowski Foundation in the Great Assembly Hall of the Royal Castle on Saturday, November 6, and the other was held at the Teatr Polski on Sunday, November 7. The former concert was streamed live online via the event website, paderewski150.pl.
Both chamber music concerts were narrated, and the guest speaker for the Royal Castle concert on November 6 was none other than the well known American-born Polish historian Adam Zamoyski. Residing in Britain, he is the author of a dozen books, including two musical biographies on Chopin and Paderewski. Mr. Zamoyski’s talk was entitled, “Paderewski, Great Pole—Great American.”
To everyone’s shock, Zamoyski got off his topic and went into a tirade of belittling the worth of Paderewski’s compositions, including derogatory remarks about his symphony, and discrediting the artist as a concert pianist. Quite the sesquicentennial surprise! Most musicians who have heard Paderewski’s recordings will agree that at times his tempos became too slow and that there were moments when Paderewski’s playing turned into banging. Even in the late 19th century, the British playwright and music critic, George Bernard Shaw, gave Paderewski the epithet, “the harmonious blacksmith.”
Finally, a gentleman stood up and told Mr. Zamoyski to stop because his speech was discouraging the audience from wanting to stay for the concert. Taken off guard, Zamoyski quickly returned to speaking about the greatness of Paderewski. When he finished, his speech received less than polite applause. Even though Zamoyski’s assessment of Paderewski as a pianist and composer may be true, it simply was neither the right place nor the right time to share those views at an event celebrating Paderewski’s life.
The concert finally got off to a start with two songs from Paderewski’s cycle of six art songs set to the poetry of Adam Mickiewicz, followed by six songs to the poetry of Catulle Mendès. Unfortunately, the songs gave the impression that what Mr. Zamoyski said earlier might be true. The pieces were monotonous and boring. They were performed by the nestor of Polish baritones, Jerzy Artysz. However, at the age of eighty, Artysz’s beautiful voice is just a shadow of what it used to be, and the octogenarian control of his voice suffered many times in his vibrato and intonation.
Coming to the rescue was pianist Karol Radzinowicz who has the distinction of having recorded the complete works of Paderewski. He excellently performed four piano showpieces: Mazurka in A minor; Krakowiak Fantistique; Legende in A Major; and the famous Menuet in GMajor.
Korean soprano Ae Ran Kim, accompanied by Japanese pianist Akai Kai, gave delightful performances of four early Paderewski songs set to the poetry of Adam Asnyk.
Closing the concert was a brilliant performance the composer’s Sonata in A minor for Violin and Piano. The violinist was Konstanty Andrzej Kulka, who was in perfect shape, and the sonata’s virtuosic accompaniment was performed by Karol Radzinowicz.
FROM POLAND WITH LOVE
On October 23 and 24, the Polish-born Canadian pianist and Harvard and Oxford graduate Berenika Zakrzewski (b. 1983), the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, and conductor JoAnn Falletta presented a concert honoring three differing eras of Polish music. The program, entitled “From Poland With Love,” included Szymanowski’s Concert Overture, Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 2, and Lutosławski’s Concerto for Orchestra, followed by an encore of Chopin’s “Revolutionary” Etude, Op. 10 no. 12. For reasons unexplained, the planned performance of Karłowicz’s Symphonic Poem “A Sad Tale” was left off of the program. The event was sponsored by the Kosciuszko Foundation – Western New York Chapter and the Polish Cultural Institute of NY.
Berenika’s performance of Chopin's Piano Concerto No.2, in honor of the 200th anniversary of the composer's birth, was perhaps the most anticipated aspect of the concert. However, during the Saturday performance, it also proved to be the most troublesome. There is some disagreement among reviewers of the performance as to whether Berenika stopped herself after an unsettled beginning to the third movement or whether she was rudely interrupted by the conductor.
The rest of the Concerto, on the other hand, seemed to be universally considered a success. Instant Encore reviewer Jeff Jeckovich remarked: “The first and second movements of the Chopin Concerto were amazing performances on Berenika's part: flawless technique and execution with a remarkable range of dynamics, especially a very controlled pianissimo that she was easily able to fluctuate gradually at will.” However, Jeckovich was less complimentary of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and its conductor, JoAnn Falletta, for both their handling of the third movement confusion as well as their overall musicianship, saying that “the BPO lost this long-time patron and his guest after witnessing this amateurish debacle.”
Regarding the other works on this exciting and demanding program, Buffalo News critic Herman Trotter gave the following summary and review, entitled “Fine tribute to Polish composers”:
For [Szymanowski’s] first orchestral work, the music is quite mature and sumptuous sounding, with a bright, flashing opening salvo and soaring lyric lines reminiscent of Richard Strauss. Its boldness stands out against contrasting interludes of lovely quiet reminiscence, all pointing forward to the lithe lyricism and exotic sonority of his later masterpieces, the First Violin Concerto, Third Symphony and “Stabat Mater.” The BPO’s strikingly full-throated performance left a vivid presence in the air.
The concert’s highlight was the Concerto for Orchestra by Witold Lutoslawski (1913-1994), which displays full-blooded Polish modernism at its finest.… Everything in Lutoslawski’s Concerto seems fresh, original and vital. From the opening trickily rhythmic Polish folk tune and the bold, wide-spaced angular motivic gestures that follow, down to the majestic closing brass-filled chorale, this is music in which the repeated unifying thematic references, exciting rhythmic intensity, brilliantly colorful orchestration and even the meaningful modern dissonances are truly audience-friendly.
75 SEASONS OF NOSPR
The Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra of Katowice, Poland (NOSPR) celebrates 75 years of existence during the 2010/2011 season. A special performance will mark the. On Friday, October 1, NOSPR's music director Jacek Kasprzyk conducted inaugural concert of this special season. Held in the Orchestra's G. Fitelberg Hall, the event featured the world premiere Fryderyk Chopin's Prelude in C-sharp minor Op. 45 in an orchestral arrangement by Charles Bodman Rae. The arrangement was commissioned by NOSPR from Rae, a Scottish musicologist and composer whose fascination with Polish music pushed him to learn the Polish language and write a book on Lutosławski. Rae intends his transcription to prove that Chopin's output opened the way for Richard Wagner's and Gustav Mahler's music.
Also on the program: Wesendonk-Lieder by Richard Wagner, featuring German mezzo-soprano Lioba Braun, and Gustav Mahler's Symphony No. 5 in C-sharp minor.
NEW FROM DUX
Chopin, Brahms, Niziurski
Wojciech Kilar Katowicom
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Copyright 2010 by the Polish Music Center
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