|Polish Music Newsletter|
October 2013, Vol. 19, No. 10. ISSN 1098-9188. Published monthly.
UPCOMING POLISH MUSIC EVENTS IN L.A.
On November 2, all fans of Polish music are invited to a private “Meet The Maestro” gathering with composer, conductor and virtuoso, Krzesimir Dębski and his wife, vocalist Anna Jurksztowicz. This sparkling evening will feature conversation with artists, an interlude performance of film music, as well as wine and hot hors d’oeuvres. Conducted mostly in Polish, English translation will be provided as needed. The event will benefit the Polish Music Center at USC and will take place on Saturday, 2 November 2013, at 7 p.m. at an exclusive Beverly Hills residence. Directions to the house will be provided upon making a reservation.
Although the official Polish Film Festival in Los Angeles concludes on October 17, this "Holiday of Polish Cinema" will continue with a final music-themed double feature documentary screening and panel discussion at USC on November 3. In collaboration with the USC Thornton School of Music and School of Cinematic Arts, the Polish Film Festival presents Please find – Henryk Mikołaj Górecki (V. Rotter-Kozera, 2012), an in-depth exploration of Górecki and the unprecedented fame that followed the world’s discovery of his Third Symphony, and Why Competitions? (C. Jezior, 2011), a discussion of the Chopin Competition in Warsaw and the merits of competitive music making in general. A panel discussion with USC film and music faculty to follow the screenings.
2013 PADEREWSKI FESTIVAL IN PASO ROBLES: NOV. 7-10
The 2013 Paderewski Festival in Paso Robles features a series of concerts and other events, including a documentary film screening of Paderewski—The Man of Action, Success and Fame, an exhibit on Paderewski’s Heart, a piano master class, and a lecture on Paderewski in Paso Robles. This year’s performers include the Panic Duo in a program of violin and piano works by Dębski, Szymanowski and Wieniawski; a Jazz and Film Music Concert featuring Krzesimir Dębski and Anna Jurksztowicz with Darek “Oles” Oleszkiewicz and friends; the Youth Piano Competition Winners’ Recital; and the Gala Concert of solo piano works by Chopin and Paderewski with Karol Radziwonowicz, piano.
Thursday, November 7
Friday, November 8
Saturday, November 9
Sunday, November 10
For tickets and information visit
RECENT DONATIONS TO THE PMC
from Anne Appleton-Strakacz
Another fascinating donation from long-time PMC friend and supporter, Anne Appleton-Strakacz (daughter of Paderewski’s personal secretary and goddaughter to Paderewski), has arrived at the PMC. It is a clutch of books from the personal libraries of Ignacy Jan Paderewski and Helena Liibke, who served as personal secretary to Paderewski’s wife, Helena. Many of these books are extremely rare and all of them very interesting, shedding some light on the literary interests of Paderewski and his household. Here is the list, beginning with the author, title and publisher. Additional comments on selected items follow, as appropriate.
Aloys Fornerod: Henryk Opienski. Éditions Spes, Lausanne, 1942. The book is inscribed to Helena Liibke by the author. Henryk Opieński (1870-1942) was a musicologist and composer who studied in Paris and, was a close friend of many of Paderewski’s friends (Władysław Górski, Zygmunt Stojowski, etc.). Opieński became especially close to Paderewski after he permanently settled in Morges, Switzerland in 1926 and frequently visited Paderewski’s residence, Riond Bosson, near Morges throughout the 1930s.
Simone Giron: Le Drame Paderewski. Éditions de l’Épée, Genève, 1948. Simone Giron’s parents were good friends of Paderewski, but she was a troublesome personality who often showed up at Paderewski’s residence uninvited. This rambling and breathless account of various incidents from Paderewski’s life is anything but fair or true.
Władysław Kocent-Zieliński & Władysław Kierst, Editors: Podręcznik do Korespondencyi Kupieckiej w pięciu językach: polskim, rosyjskim, niemieckim, francuskim i angielskim [The Handbook for Tradesmen Correspondence in Five languages: Polish, Russian, German, French and English]. Warszawa, Szyller i Syn, 1902. Inscribed in pencil to Helena Liibke by an unidentified donor. As Madame Paderewska’s secretary, this unique dictionary of business terminology in five languages would have proved very useful throughout Liibke’s two decades with the Paderewski family in Switzerland and later, in America, when Liibke lived with the Strakacz family.
Adam Mickiewicz: Pisma Adama Mickiewicza [Works by Adam Mickiewicz]. Volume I-II-II-IV. Edited by Józef Kallenbach. Wydawnictwo Marjan Haskler, Warszawa-Kraków-Lwów-Poznań. [Undated, probably 1890s]. Each of the four volumes signed by Helena Liibke and dated “1934.” It is likely that these volumes belonged to Madame Paderewska and were given to Liibke following Helena Paderewska’s death in January 1934.
Ferdinand Hoesick: Miłość w życiu Zygmunta Krasińskiego [Love in Zygmunt Krasiński’s Life], Volume I & II. Drukarnia Granowskiego i Sikorskiego, Warszawa 1899. Paderewski was very interested in Zygmunt Krasiński (1812-1859), a great literary figure ranked together with the other two bards of Polish Romanticism, Adam Mickiewicz and Juliusz Słowacki.
Zygmunt Krasiński: Irydyon. Foreword by Piotr Chmielowski. Drukarnia Granowskiego i Sikorskiego, Warszawa 1898.
Adam Mickiewicz: Dzieła Adama Mickiewcza—Poezye pośmiertne. Wydanie zupełne przez dzieci autora dokonane. [Posthumously Published Poetry by Adam Mickiewicz. A complete edition prepared by the author’s children]. Volume V. Księgarnia Luksemburska, Paryż, 1880. Paderewski lived in Paris in the late 1880s and throughout the 1890s, and befriended Mickiewicz’s family there, especially his oldest daughter, Maria, known as “Mariotka.” Born in Paris in 1832, she died there in 1922, having corresponded with Paderewski regularly. Quite possibly Paderewski either bought this book shortly after it was published or received it from Mickiewicz’s children.
Henryk Sienkiewicz: Pisma Henryka Sienkiewicza. Potop. [Works by Henryk Sienkiewicz.The Flood]. Volume I & II. Gebethner i Wolff, Warszawa i Kraków, 1908. The two volumes bear signs of heavy usage and each has an inscription (possibly in Helena Paderewska’s hand): “Bibljoteka I. J. Paderewskiego, Riond Bosson, Morges” [The Library of I.J. Paderewski, Riond Bosson, Morges]. Henryk Sienkiewicz (1846-1916) was a famous writer of heroic historical novels about Poland’s glorious past. A recipient of the Nobel Prize in 1905, he was a close friend of Paderewski and visited him in Switzerland on many occasions to organize relief for Poland during the first two years of World War I.
Grzegorz z pod Racławic: Wieczory pod lipą czyli Historya Narodu Polskiego. [Evenings under the Linden Tree or History of the Polish Nation]. Wydawnictwo Himmelblaua, Kraków 1873. This is a popular account of Polish history written by Lucjan Siemieński under his nom de plume, Grzegorz z pod Racławic. First published in 1845, this is the 10th, expanded and corrected edition. Paderewski may have acquired this book during his studies at the Warsaw Conservatory in the 1870s, as history of Poland was one of his favorite subjects.
* * * * *
From Marek Tomaszewski
Marek Tomaszewski, renowned Polish pianist currently residing in Paris, sent the PMC a new and fascinating recording of Tomaszewski's arrangement of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring. The CD is published by AGORA S.A. and can be purchased at www.marektomaszewski.com.
Stravinsky’s iconic original orchestral score also exists in a piano four-hand version, which was published in Paris in 1913. Tomaszewski’s transcription for solo piano rises to the challenge of compressing this very rich and complex score to one instrument and one performer. The intricate rhythmic patterns and dense chordal textures as well as more mellifluous passages where orchestral color is paramount are, actually—almost miraculously—rendered by Tomaszewski in a beautifully sonorous recording. For those who’d like to see Marek Tomaszewski’s performing this pianistic feat, fragments of his version of The Rite of Spring can be found in Jan Kounen’s film, Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky.
Recorded and mixed at Polish Radio, this CD comes in an elegant booklet amply illustrated with photographs of Mr. Tomaszewski and program notes in English, French, German and Polish.
* * * * *
From Janusz Wawrowski and Magdalena Rucińska
Following an enthralling performance at the Muzyka na Szyczytach Festival in Zakopane, Poland, virtuoso violinist Janusz Wawrowski and music organizer Magdalena Rucińska provided the PMC with a copy of the excellent new recording, Aurora (EMI Music Poland 12978892). Named for the Roman goddess of dawn, the recording provides a beguiling program of music for violin and piano by Karol Szymanowski, Maurice Ravel, Eugène Ysaÿe, and Witold Lutosławski. Recorded in the Lutosławski S-2 studio in Warsaw, the program is expertly yet intimately performed by Wawrowski and pianist José Gallardo.
An interesting, 6-minute promotional video sampling of their recording session and interspersed with the interviews by both artists (in English with Polish voiceover) can be accessed at: www.youtube.com.
* * * * *
From Danuta Sztencel
Also at the Muzyka na Szyczytach [Music on the Heights] Festival in Zalopane, Artistic Director Danuta Sztencel welcomed PMC Assistant Director as a special guest and provided the PMC with several of the informative 2013 Festival programs, including extensive notes in both English and Polish, as well as the recording Obrazki ze Szczytów [Sounds from the Heights] (DUX 0981). Featuring a selection of “greatest hits” from previous Festivals, the recording includes works by Mussorgsky, Mahler, Villa Lobos, Bach and others, with performers including: Sebastian Bernatowicz - piano, Sławomir Berny - percussion, Jacek Hołubowski - accordion, Józef Michalik - bass guitar, Marek Nemtusiak - clarinet, Michał Poniżnik - clarinet, Joanna Słowińska - vocal, Przemysław Sokół - trumpet, Mariusz Stępień - clarinet/soprano saxophone, Jakub Sztencel - clarinet/bass clarinet.
* * * * *
From Prof. Krzysztof Baculewski
During PMC Assistant Director Krysta Close’s time at the 2013 Warszawska Jesień [Warsaw Autumn] Festival this September, composer and musicologist Prof. Krzysztof Baculewski provided not only keen insights into various aspects of the Festival and the Polish contemporary music scene in general, but also generous access to Festival events, a 2013 Program and several recordings to add to the PMC collection.
The recordings include a CD devoted to Ignacy Feliks Dobrzyński featuring Emilian Madey – piano, the Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra and Łukasz Borowicz – cond. (CHANDOS 10778), Bóg się rodzi featuring Camerata Silesia and Kwartet Prima Vista (DUX 0300), and Oj maluśki, maluśki of Baculewski’s Christmas carol arrangements featuring Camerata Silesia (MUSICON 013).
* * * * *
From Amb. Katarzyna Skórzyńska and the Paderewski Institute of Diplomacy
Building upon previous cooperative efforts, the Paderewski Institute of Diplomacy’s Director, Amb. Katarzyna Skórzyńska, invited PMC’s Krysta Close to the Institute for meetings as well as a gathering of diplomats, artists and other friends of the Institute during her time in Warsaw.Cementing the two organizations’ mutual interests, Close was presented with several DVD copies of the new documentary film “Paderewski – człowiek czynu, sukcesu i sławy” [Paderewski—The Man of Action, Success and Fame], directed by Wiesław Dąbrowski. Already slated for screening at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, November 9 during the 2013 Paderewski Festival, these copies of the film are a welcome addition to the PMC’s ever-growing audiovisual collection.
* * * * *
From the Janusz Prusinowski Trio
After their rousingly successful opening concert of the EUropean Jazz @ UCLA Festival on October 10 in Los Angeles, the Janusz Prusinowski Trio presented the PMC with two of their recent recordings: Mazurki (Słuchaj uchem, 2008) and Knee-Deep in Heaven (Słuchaj uchem, 2013). Combining the ancient sounds of village life, the romantic inspirations of Chopin and the avant-garde complexities of modernity, these albums exude a rhythm of Poland that defies contemporization and simply draws the listener in for a closer listen.
Thank you to all of our donors for these wonderful addition to the
LUTOSLAWSKI YEAR 2013
DERWID ‘SUNSPOTS’ PREMIERED ON CD ACCORD
Well known each in their own right as creators and performers of classical music, the trio of Agata Zubel, Cezary Duchnowski and Andrzej Bauer has been collaborating on performances of Witold Lutoslawski’s pop hits written under the pseudonym Derwid since 2008. However, is the premiere recording of these rarely-heard, mostly dance songs. According Ewa Szczecińska of Ruch Muzyczny (No. 15 – July 20, 2008):
FOUR STARS FOR LUTOSŁAWSKI CD
Witold Lutosławski: Opera Omnia 3
The Wrocław Philharmonic’s recording of Lutosławski’s Preludia i fuga under the baton of Ernst Kovacic did not inspire reviewer Piotr Wolanin (Muzyka 21, September 2013), who observed that maestro Kovacic only “minimally contributed” to the creative interpretation of the freely-improvised sections of Lutosławski’s work. Mr. Wolanin found the conductor’s hands-off approach regrettable, especially since Preludia i fuga was recorded by Lutosławski and Warsaw Chamber Orchestra and could be used as a source for study and inspiration.
On the other hand, the Wrocław Phil’s interpretation of Lutosławski’s Double Concerto for Oboe and Harp—led by the soloist, Nicholas Daniel—received the highest marks. “The English musician had acquitted himself superbly in his double role. His part was hypnotizing from the first sounds emerging from silence (Rhapsodico), only to charm with lyricism and trembling (Dolente), or even shock with the cacophonous braying (Marciale e grotesco).” Mr. Wolanin concludes that “for Preludes and Fugue one ought to give three stars, and for the Double Concerto, five; so, on average, this is a four-star recording.”
This 2-CD set is the third and latest installment in Polish label CD Accord’s “Lutosławski: Opera Omnia” series.
[Source: Muzyka 21pre-release]
Held from October 8-13, 2013 the Lutos at Saska Kępa Festival celebrated the generally lesser-known side of Lutosławski as a composer of popular music. Maria Pomianowska and her group opened the Festival with the October 8 concert, “Lutosławski, folk-style.” It was followed by the Marcin Olak Trio with a “Lutosławski, jazz style” on October 10. Lutosławski’s Children songs were heard in an October 12 performance by students from Warsaw’s ground and middle schools, accompanied by percussionists Piotr Domański and Piotr Iwicki. Janusz Radek, a charismatic vocalist and his band closed the Festival on October 13 with a concert of Lutosławski’s cabaret and stage songs, written under the pen name “Derwid.”
All concerts were held at the Klub Kultury Saska Kępa. Some of the events, including an evening of dancing, were free. The Festival was organized by the Fundacja Nowa Orkiestra Kameralna (FNOK) and co-sponsored by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage, the Institute of Music and Dance, and Polish Authors’ Society, ZAiKS. Tomasz Kucharski, mayor of the Praga-South district of Warsaw, was the honorary patron of this Festival.
14TH MUSICAL CONFRONTATIONS FESTIVAL
Held throughout the month of October, the 2013 Musical Confrontations Festival highlights the 85th anniversary of the organizing body of the Festival, the Stawiska Artists’ Residence (pictured above), and the role it has played in Polish cultural and musical life. Because of this year’s Lutosławski’s centenary celebrations, the composer’s links to this residence are highlighted in concert programs scheduled during the next few weeks.
Music particularly favored by Lutosławski will be featured, including works by Bach, Chopin, Mozart, Beethoven, Debussy and Szymanowski. Another interesting Festival program will recreate the 1942 concert Lutosławski performed as a pianist in Nazi occupied Warsaw.
Once owned by the Iwaszkiewicz family, the manor at Stawiska had previously hosted the Chopin-Szymanowski-Lutosławski Festival in 2007 and From Chopin to Lutosławski Festival in 2010.
THE EMANATIONS OF PENDERECKI
The first jubilee edition of the Emanacje [Emanations] Festival of concerts and opera performances honors the 80th birthday anniversary of Krzysztof Penderecki—patron of the European Music Centre in Lusławice and world-renowned composer and conductor associated with Kraków and Małopolska. From June to November 2013, weekends will resound with concerts in more than 40 locations throughout the Małopolska Region - from concert halls in major cities, through the most beautiful castles, mansions and palaces, the unique wooden interior small churches, museums and music centers.
Among the performers at the 2013 Festival are both up-and-coming talented performers (Agata Szymczewska, Rafał Kwiatkowski, Maria Machowska, Łukasz Kuropaczewski, Bartłomiej Kokot, Jagoda Krzemińska) and those who have already made spectacular debuts recently—such as TWOgether Duo, winners of the Passport Award, or the Atom String Quartet, two-time honorees at the Fryderyk Awards. At the same time, the Festival also presents artists already recognized by music lovers all over the world (Kaja Danczowska, Agnieszka Rehlis, Łukasz Długosz, Michał Dworzyński, Jerzy Maksymiuk, Jacek Muzyk and Tomasz Stańko) as well as the top Polish ensembles: Motion Trio, Katowice City Singers' Ensemble Camerata Silesia, Lutosławski Quartet, Beethoven Academy Orchestra, as well as the Choir and Orchestra of the Kraków Philharmonic and the Wrocław Opera, Batic Opera and Kraków Opera.
“Emanation” is both the name and the theme of the festival. The title comes from where the career of the Maestro began to explode: with a triple victory at the second Young Polish Composers’ Competition in 1959. Among the three winning works were Emanacje—a composition for two string orchestras by the then 25-year-old Penderecki. But this title also expresses the lofty goals of the Festival: enlarging the circle of concert participants throughout the region; developing potential new cultural centers and roads leading from the recognized centers of musical life to new places; creating economic opportunities in the region; and more. These goals all emanate from the heart of the Festival, which has indeed become the new musical heart for the region: the European Penderecki Centre for Music in Lusławice, Poland.
See the full calendar of upcoming events happening on October 3, 4, 5, and 19, as well as November 9 and 16 at: www.emanacje.pl.
PENDERECKI’S BIRTHDAY AT TEATR WIELKI
When Krzysztof Penderecki (b. Nov. 23, 1933) wrote the St. Luke Passion in the mid-1960s, he was concurrently engrossed with reading about the Inquisition. Out of this fascination, an opera about demonic possession was born—The Devils of Loudun—which was given its World Premiere at the Hamburgische Staatsoper on June 20, 1969. These “Satanic Verses” of Penderecki are the quintessence of what’s best about the composer’s work: biting sounds straight from opera buffa, dramatic arias and ariosos as if taken from the greatest examples of opera seria, dense instrumental spaces anticipating the Polish Requiem, electronic processing as a trademark of Polish sonorism. Simply put, this is a musical interpersonal cosmos. The strength of Keith Warner’s version is the image of evil crawling from person to person, engulfing all without exception, including people of faith.
On the occasion of his 80th birthday, the Polish composer has prepared a new version of the score of The Devils of Loudun in co-production with the Royal Danish Theatre, and the world premiere took place in Copenhagen’s Det Kongelige Teater on February 12, 2013. As part of the birthday celebrations in Poland, the Polish premiere of this new version will take place at the Grand Theatre in Warsaw on October 2, 4, 6 and 8, 2013, performed by the National Opera.
Continuing the birthday celebrations, the National Theatre will also present a series of monographic concerts dedicated to the composer, entitled “PREMIERE PRELUDE PENDERECKI.” On October 1, the following works will be performed: Missa Brevis for acapella choir (2013); Divertimento per violoncello solo (1994); and Concerto for viola and orchestra (chamber orchestra version) (1983). Performers for the evening will be Marcin Zdunik – cello; Ryszard Groblewski – viola; the Polish Chamber Choir, Artistic Director and Conductor: Jan Łukaszewski; and Sinfonia Varsovia, Marek Moś - cond. On October 5, the following works will be performed: String Trio (1991) and Sextet for Violin, Viola, Cello, Piano, Clarinet and French horn (2000). Performers include: Maciej Grzybowski – piano; Anna Maria Staśkiewicz – violin; Katarzyna Budnik – viola; Marcin Zdunik – cello; Radosław Soroka – clarinet; and Grzegorz Mondry – french horn.
PENDERECKI IN CHINA
Held from October 4-31, this year’s Beijing Music Festival (BMF) honors “living legend” of avant-garde music, Krzysztof Penderecki, with two concerts dedicated to his music. On October 15, there will be a concert of chamber music, which Penderecki himself describes as “the most noble form of music”—featuring such chamber works as Serenade for Strings, Concerto for viola, and Chaconne “In memoriam John Paul II”.
On October 16, Penderecki and the China National Symphony Orchestra will perform his Double Concerto for Violin, Viola and Orchestra featuring Chinese violinist Vera Tsu Wei-ling and Lithuanian violist Julian Rachlin. The composer also conducts a reprise his Symphony No. 8 Songs of Transcience, a Beijing Music Festival commission that premiered in 2007.
PENDERECKI FESTIVAL “LEVEL 320” IN ZABRZE
The First International Krzysztof Penderecki Festival “Level 320” will take place from October 22-26, 2013 in Zabrze, Poland. Maestro Penderecki, to whom this festival is dedicated, is one of the greatest composers of modern times, and will be in attendance. This is an extraordinary event, not only because its patron is celebrating his 80th birthday, but because of its unorthodox concert venue 320 meters underground in the Guido Mine!
The first Polish performance of the quintet Leaves from an Unwritten Diary will open this new annual festival. This quintet versions of Leaves… is the composer’s re-writing of the quartet of the same name. The Polish premieres of several other Penderecki works will be given over the course of the Festival, as well as performances of works by Witold Lutosławski, Igor Stravinsky, Henryk Wieniawski and more.
For a performance and venue details, visit: penderecki320.com.
SIKORA’S 70TH BIRTHDAY
On October 6 during the 2nd Neoarte Spectrum of New Music Festival, the NeoQuartet—the Festival’s host ensemble—will celebrate the 70th birthday of composer Elżbieta Sikora with a jubilee concert. The program will consist entirely of music by Sikora : In Memoriam Ursula (3rd String Quartet); String Sextet; Solo; and Cadenza. The concert will take place at the Old Town Hall in Gdańsk, Poland.
ZAiKS CELEBRATES 95 YEARS
The 95th anniversary of the Polish Authors’ Rights Society (ZAiKS) was celebrated at the Penderecki European Center for Music in Lusławice on September 13. Almost 600 guests, most of them members of ZAiKS, have gathered to receive prizes, listen to music, and discuss future plans for the Society.
Guests attending the Gala also included a number of high government officials, such as Maciej Klimczak, Secretary of State in the Chancellery of the President of Poland, and Minister Małgorzata Omilanowska, representing the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage, who delivered letters of congratulations from their respective departments and spoke of culture as one of the essential characteristics for defining the national identity. Well-known film director, Krzysztof Zanussi and pioneering still photographer, Ryszard Horowitz received ZAiKS awards. Horowitz’s photo exhibit entitled “All That Jazz,” featuring photos of musicians from across the world, was displayed in the spacious corridors of Penderecki’s European Center for Music brand new concert hall. A concert featuring the Camerata Silesia led by Anna Szostak and the Beethoven Academy Orchestra led by Krzysztof Penderecki featured a number of Penderecki’s compositions.
The second day of celebrations moved to the palace in Janowice, a ZAiKS retreat nearby, including a 19th century neo-gothic palace surrounded by over 20 acres of gardens. This facility is designed to serve creative needs of ZAiKS members and collaborate with the Penderecki Center in Lusławice and the Paderewski Center in Kąśna Dolna.
POLISH MUSICAL HERITAGE CELEBRATED IN CA
Traditionally, October is the Polish Heritage Month. And indeed, throughout the month many events—musical, cultural, and culinary—are scheduled throughout Southern California. Musically speaking, two in particular are worthy of consideration.
The first of the two events is the annual Paderewski Lecture-Recital at USC on Sunday, October 20 at 7 p.m. This event highlights Paderewski’s association with USC, which bestowed upon him an honorary degree in 1923. For well over a decade now, the Polish Music Center had welcomed the most prominent Polish musicians to share their art and learning with local audiences during this annual event. Zygmunt Krauze, Joanna Bruzdowicz, Stanisław Skrowaczewski, Marta Ptaszyńska, Krzysztof Meyer, Paweł Łukaszewski, and Grzegorz Nowak were invited to lecture and perform at USC. The PMC had also celebrated gifts of manuscripts to the Center (Henry Vars in 2005 and Zygmunt and Luisa Stojowski in 2006) by organizing concerts honoring these composers within the Paderewski Lecture-Recital series. The Paderewski Lecture-Recital had also served as a vehicle for commemorating important Polish musicians’ anniversaries—such was the case with Wojciech Kilar in 2008, Ignacy Jan Paderewski in 2010, and Karol Szymanowski in 2012.
This year, the Paderewski Lecture-Recital will celebrate the 60th birthday of Krzesimir Dębski, a prominent Polish composer, a virtuoso violinist and pianist, and a celebrated orchestral conductor. It will feature performances by the Panic Duo, Midnight Winds, Dębski’s wife, the highly popular singer Anna Jurksztowicz. The concert will be held at the Alfred Newman Recital Hall on the USC campus and the admission is free.
The other musically important October 2013 event in southern California will be a solo piano recital by Maciej Grzybowski. It will take place on Sunday, October 27 at 3 p.m. at the Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. It will be Mr. Grzybowski’s second appearance in Los Angeles, after a very successful recital in Santa Monica a little over a year ago. Maciej Grzybowski is an extraordinary artist, whose uncompromising repertoire choices lead to very interesting juxtapositions: the Baroque era compositions of Bach are performed side by side with music by such contemporary Polish composers as Paweł Szymański, Karol Szymanowski or Paweł Mykietyn. Throughout the 1990s Grzybowski won several prizes in international competitions for young performers that featured exclusively modern music and, since that time, he has performed with leading orchestras throughout Europe. His CD recordings for the Universal and EMI Classics labels have been hailed for Grzybowski’s superb pianistic and interpretative skills as well as for the fascinating repertoire presented on each disc.
Maciej Grzybowski’s October 27 concert at Loyola Marymount University is organized by the Modjeska Club of Art and Culture, based in Los Angeles. Since its inception in 1971, the Modjeska Club has vigorously promoted Polish heritage in Southern California by sponsoring lectures, concerts, meetings and other cultural and history-themed events. Their continuing efforts at enriching the intellectual life of all residents of Southern California deserve great support. Tickets to Maciej Grzybowski’s performance are $20 for guests and $15 for members of the Modjeska Club. More information about the concert and tickets can be found on the Modjeska Club website: http://modjeska.org/2013-10-27_Grzybowski.php
**NOTE: Due to visa issues, Mr. Grzybowski will be unable to perform this concert and has been replaced by pianist Krystian Tkaczewski. The organizers apologize for any inconvenience this may cause. **
OCTOBER EVENTS IN LUSŁAWICE
Below are the upcoming educational programs to be held at the newly opened European Penderecki Centre for Music in Lusławice, Poland.
Jacek Muzyk Master class: October 13-14th
Jacek Muzyk – principal French horn player of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra (USA). After graduation from The Music Academy in Krakow he continued improving his skills at The Mannes College of Music, Juilliard School of Music in New York and completed his musical education at Rice University in Houston. He has performed in the Polish Radio Orchestra, the Warsaw National Philharmonic and the Kraków Philharmonic at the same time collaborating with several national orchestras, including the Chamber Orchestra “Amadeus,” Sinfonietta Cracovia and several foreign ensembles, including Danish Chamber Players, Camerata Sweden, Sinfonia Helvetica, Houston Grand Opera, Dallas Symphony, the Buffalo Philharmonic and the Houston Symphony. He worked with the Chicago Symphony as an assistant to the famous Dale Clevenger and as a principal French horn player with the Pittsburgh Symphony, St. Louis Symphony, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra. Activities also include solo concerts and master classes in Europe, USA, South America, China and Japan. Muzyk has been a lecturer at the University of Buffalo (USA) since 2007.
Kaja Danczowska Master class: October 16-20th
Kaja Danczowska – a distinguished Polish violinist and teacher. She was eight years old when she started her violin lessons in the studio Eugenia Umińska and later became her student at the State Higher School of Music in Kraków. She is the winner of the most prominent international violin competitions and has performed in many countries within Europe, South and North America, Asia and Australia. Since 1978, she has cooperated with pianist Krystian Zimerman as a chamber musician and music adviser. Danczowska has been teaching violin at The Music Academy in Kraków since 1972, and serves often as a juror in international competitions.
Witold Lutosławski and Polish music of the twentieth century: October 21-24th
This event is a series of presentations intended for students of junior high and high schools, and not only those in music schools. Lectures, combined with the presentation of films, documentaries and music recordings and a short concert. The meetings will be led by well-known composer and musicologist, Maciej Negrey. The string quartet DAFO will perform fragments of works by Polish composers. The aim of the series is to disseminate and expand students’ knowledge of contemporary music and the role of the Witold Lutosławski in the history of twentieth century music. The series of presentations has also to provide a basic knowledge of music, presenting it in an accessible and attractive way.
POLISH FILM FESTIVAL IN LOS ANGELES
Following a successful and star-studded evening at the Opening Night Gala on October 8, the Polish Film Festival in Los Angeles will present its fourteenth annual "Holiday of Polish Cinema" through October 17, 2013. From shorts and animations to full-length features, from hilarious comedies to heart-breaking tragedies, this Festival screens the best that Polish cinema has to offer at various theaters in convenient locations throughout the city.
This year’s schedule includes such diverse titles as YUMA (Piotr Mularuk, 2012), FLOATING SKYSCRAPERS (T. Wasilewski, 2013), WOMEN'S DAY (M. Sadowska, 2012), MANHUNT (M. Krzysztalowicz, 2012 - Hollywood Eagle Award Winner, 2013), IMAGINE (A. Jakimowski, 2012- Hollywood Eagle Award Winner, 2013) and THE SECRET OF WESTERPLATTE (P. Chochlew, 2013) - for a full listing of all titles, theaters and screening times, see attached or visit www.polishfilmla.org.
If you weren’t able to attend the Gala Opening or other screenings
Thank you, and see you at the theater!
[Sources: press release, polishfilmla.org]
PLOWRIGHT PLAYS CHOPIN & PADEREWSKI @ BULL HOTEL
Hailed by reviewers as "a colossal musical mind" with a "transcendent technique,” Jonathan Plowright is recognized globally as a truly exceptional pianist.Gold Medallist at the Royal Academy of Music and a Fulbright Scholar, prizewinner in many competitions, Plowright won Gold Medal at the Royal Overseas League Competition as well as first prize at the European Piano Competition. Critics, colleagues and audiences alike have since had unanimous praise for his many national and international performances and he has been in demand all over the world as recitalist, appeared with leading orchestras and ensembles and given numerous radio broadcasts.
During the past decade Plowright has become well known as an advocate of the Polish Romantic repertoire. Besides his popular disc of pieces by Chopin, his first recording of a rare collection of pieces by Paderewski earned Jonathan an invitation by the Paderewski in Memoriam Foundation to give the closing recital of the Polish Parliament’s 2001 "Year of Paderewski" celebrations in Warsaw, as well as a several solo recital performances in California during the 2010 Paderewski sesquicentennial celebrations.
On October 27 and 28, Plowright will perform the music of Chopin and Paderewski, as well as Brahms, Mozart, Debussy and many others, during two exclusive recital programs at The Bull Hotel in Gerards Cross, England. For a full program listing and event details, visit musicatleisure.co.uk.
On both evenings, the 6:30pm Black Tie Champagne Reception is followed at 7:00pm by the Recital (with programme note booklet and interval champagne), then a 3 course Dinner (including wine and coffee) with the musicians and your fellow guests house-party style. The two nights accommodation sharing a twin/ double room with private bathroom (or single room) includes full traditional breakfast each morning, as well as a Morning Event with coffee.
[Sources: press release, musicatleisure.co.uk]
On October 1—the International Day of Music and the 3rd anniversary of the founding of the award’s supporting organization, the Institute of Music and Dance (IMiT)—the gala ceremony honoring the winners of the 2013 ‘Koryfeusz’ Polish Music Awards was held in the Polish Radio Lutosławski Concert Studio in Warsaw.
Personality of the Year:
Piotr Beczała, tenor
Event of the Year:
Prof. Jan Ekier,
The winners were awarded statuettes by Professor Adam Myjak. Awards in the categories of "Personality of the Year" and "Honorary Award" were accompanied by monetary rewards funded by the Association of Performing Artists STOART and the Society of Authors ZAiKS.
The gala concert included performances by vocalist Agata Zubel, pianist Cezary Duchnowski, and cellist Andrew Bauer of the "El-Derwid" project; singers Marianna Bączek and Adam Strug; and pianist Piotr Orzechowski (aka "Pianohooligan") and violinist Jaroslaw Żołnierczyk with the Polish Radio "Amadeus" Chamber Orchestra with conductor Agnieszka Duczmal and the Polish Radio Choir under the baton of Włodzimierz Siedlik.
ZAiKS’ SZYMANOWSKI COMPETITION WINNERS
Grzegorz Duchnowski; Ignacy Zalewski; Szymon Godziemby-Trytka; Kamil Kosecki
On September 16, 2013, winners were announced in the VII edition of the Karol Szymanowski Composers Competition, organized bythe ZAiKS Society of Authors on the occasion of its jubilee 95th anniversary. After considering the 22 works submitted under this year’s designation of "Work for symphony orchestra (dur. 12-20 minutes)," the jury comprised of Edward Pałłasz (Chairman), Miłosz Bembinow, Jerzy Kornowicz and Maciej Zieliński decided on the following winners of the Competition:
The Awards ceremony will be held on October 16, 2013 at 4:00 p.m. at the ZAiKS headquarters on ul. Hipoteczna 2 in Warsaw.
UNSOUND 2013 – LONDON & KRAKOW EDITIONS
Whether in its home base in Kraków or abroad, the Unsound Festival continues to host the most interesting Polish experimental music acts. Following on the success of previous foreign versions held in New York, Tbilisi, Adelaide, Minsk, Kiev, Prague, and Bratislava, the 2013 Unsound Festival – London Edition was held from September 26-29. Featured performances in London were Demdike Stare teaming up with Sinfonietta Cracovia and Pianohooligan (aka pianist Piotr Orzechowski) interpreting of Krzysztof Penderecki’s works, as well as the opportunities to hear Anna Zaradny, Robert Piotrowicz, BNNT, Stara Rzeka, Lustmord and others. Unsound concerts also featured projects commissioned especially by the organizers
In the words of Mat Schulz, the Festival's founding artistic director:
This year’s 2013 Unsound Festival – Kraków Edition will be held from October 13-20. The theme of this year’s event is "Interference," which, according to Festival organizers, can refer to:
BYDGOSZCZ MUSIC FESTIVAL
This year’s 51st edition of the Bydgoszcz Music Festival celebrated the 2013 jubilee anniversaries of Witold Lutosławski, Henryk Mikołaj Górecki and Krzysztof Penderecki from September 13 – October 4. Concert performances were held at venues throughout Bydgoszcz, Toruń and Chełmno.
The Festival opened with a performance of Penderecki’s St. Luke’s Passion, performed by the Warsaw National Philharmonic with Antoni Wit, conductor. During the Festival concert on October 2, Górecki’s Three Pieces in Old Style for string orchestra and Lutosławski’s Concerto for oboe, harp and chamber orchestra were performed by the Capella Bydgostiensis Chamber Orchestra and conductor José Maria Florêncio with soloists Jadwiga Kotnowska – flute, Anna Sikorzak-Olek – harp, Vitold Rek – bass, and Piotr Biskupski – percussion. Other concerts included interpretations of works by Lutosławski, Garner, Rodgers and Weill performed by Adam Makowicz (September 14), works by Karłowicz paired with interpretation of Chopin by Krzysztof Herdzin performed by the Capella Bydgostiensis Chamber Orchestra with conductor Jan Miłosz Zarzycki and saxophonist Paweł Gusnar (September 15), and works by Górecki, Penderecki, and Lutosławski performed Polish Chamber Orchestra from Sopot (September 25).
For details and a full listing of concerts, visit www.filharmonia.bydgoszcz.pl.
Works by Polish composers will be featured during the ХІX International “Contrasts” Contemporary Music Festival, held from September 26 until October 18 in the city of Lviv in the Ukraine (formerly Lwów, when it was part of Poland). Kwartet na otwarcie domu by Zbigniew Bujarski, Axon for flute and clarinet by Tomasz Skweres and Lebenszeichen for solo violin by Maciej Jabłoński are among the works to be performed. This year’s event will feature the performances by the ConstantY Ensemble of New Music, K&K Philharmoniker, the violin and organ duo of Maria and Roman Perucki and many others. Festival concerts will take place at the Lviv Philharmonic as well as other locations in the city center. See a full schedule here: vivalive.com.
The month-long Contrasts Festival celebrates contemporary Ukrainian music and its place in the global music scene. The Festival was established in 1995 to represent a variety of musical forms, styles, genres and interpretations emphasizing the often contrasting character of new music.
HUBERMAN VIOLIN FESTIVAL
The 9th edition of the Bronisław Huberman Violin Festival will be celebrated in Częstochowa, Poland from October 4-19, 2013. This year’s edition feature works by such Polish composers as: Z. Stojowski – Suite for orchestra in Eflat major, op. 9; H. Wieniawski – Violin Concerto No. 1 in F# minor, op. 14; W. Lutosławski – Concerto for Orchestra; H. M. Górecki – Three Pieces in the Old Style; and K. Penderecki – Viola Concerto in a transcription for saxophone and orchestra (Polish premiere).
The Festival is hosted by the Częstochowa Philharmonic, which officially took on the name and patronage of Bronisław Huberman in 2012. The first edition marked the 50th anniversary of the death of this great Polish musician, who was one of the greatest and most famous violinists of the twentieth century, as well as a great humanist with grand vision for the co-existence of humankind.
For more information and detailed schedule of the Festival, visit: filharmonia.com.pl.
[Sources: Ruch Muzyczny – concert calendar, filharmonia.com.pl]
REVIEW: WARSAW AUTUMN 2013
The 56th International Warszawska Jesień [Warsaw Autumn] Festival of Contemporary Music was held from September 20-28, and I, as representative of the Polish Music Center and several US news outlets, was a guest at the Festival from September 21-25. Despite many years of steeping myself in Poland’s contemporary music scene as Assistant Director of the PMC and editor of this Newsletter, this was my first personal visit to this venerable annual event. Because I was physically unable to make it to all of the Festival’s myriad, and often concurrent, offerings at venues throughout the city, I focused on those events that featured Polish music, especially premieres, in keeping with the mission of this publication.
Like its host city, the Warsaw Autumn Festival (est. 1956) simultaneously exudes the stoicism of an anchored establishment and the freshness of a constantly changing organism. It was however the former that was most prominently on display during the Polska Music Now Debate, held from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. on September 21 in the beautiful Museum of the History of Polish Jews (pictured below). Organized and hosted by Ewa Bogusz-Moore and her dedicated staff at the Adam Mickiewicz Institute’s (IAM) Polska Music section, the debate also served as a launch for the new annual Polska Music Now magazine, whose interesting insights and articles will surely keep the debate topics moving forward long after the Festival is done.
After a late start to the morning panel, surely prompted by the lure of interesting booths in the lobby—featuring presenters such as Warner Music Group, Presto Music Magazine, MUDO Music Documentaries and the ForMusic Foundation—the debate began with an introduction from IAM Director Paweł Potoroczyn. Moderated by composer Rafał Augustyn and music critic Dorota Kozińska, the day-long debate was divided into two panel discussions: “Witold Lutosławski & Warsaw Autumn” and “Polish composers of the 21st Century: The main trends in contemporary Polish music.” Participants in Panel I were Prof. Adrian Thomas (UK), Michael McManus (UK), Olga Smetanova (Slovakia), and Monika Żyła (Poland), and participants in Panel II were Harry Lehmann (Germany), Clement Power (UK), Ed McKeon (UK), and again Olga Smetanova (Slovakia). The first panel delivered a stimulating discussion of Lutosławski’s far-reaching influence; however on the subject of Warsaw Autumn in general, the opinions of the event’s long and venerated history were rather one-sidedly positive, or at most tepid in their exploration. One particularly informative aspect of this first discussion was born out of the Q&A statement offered by Andrzej Kosowski of IMiT, which has conducted quantitative research into the percentages of Polish composers performed at Warsaw Autumn and beyond. In the second panel, the pre-dominance of the British angle on the debate became even more apparent, and the discussion veered away from trends in Polish music and at Warsaw Autumn specifically to viability and success of contemporary music in general. Overall, although many of these presenters provided interesting perspectives on the subjects at hand, the discussion organization did not hone these various statements into a satisfyingly cohesive debate.
The truth of Dir. Potoroczyn’s opening statement of the Polska Music Now debate, however—regarding how IAM’s business of international cultural diplomacy is no longer about promotion, but instead “now the name of the game is exchange”—came fully into fruition during the next day’s Festival concert at 4 p.m. at the IMKA Theater. The concert program was made up entirely of world premieres, including one commission from Warsaw Autumn (Grzegorz Pieniek’s Days to come, days gone by) and one from the Polish Composers’ Union ZKP (Jacek Grudzień / Izabela Chlewińska’s Preparation for Change), as well as premieres by Arthur Kampela – As if and Uroš Rojko – Lakritze.
In addition to the beauty and interest of the music itself, what made the first half of this concert a shining illustration of Potoroczyn’s statement was also a perfect example of what is most exciting about Warsaw Autumn: the seamless dialogue between composer and performer and audience, regardless of country of origin and/or cultural bias. For the first three pieces on the program, the ensemble of Suisse mezzo-soprano Sylvia Nopper and Slovenian musicians Uroš Rojko – clarinet, Klara Tomljanovič – guitar and Luka Juhart – accordion performed music by Polish and Slovenian composers with passion and bursts of virtuosity. The second half consisted of a performance by Włodzimierz Pawlik - piano, Izabela Chlewińska - dance/choreography, and Tomasz Bergmann - video projections of their new work exploring the boundaries between international contemporary music and modern dance. The choice of the IMKA—a small black box-style theater—complimented the space- and movement-oriented works on this program, and the stripped down feel of the venue also provided a fresh contrast to the standard venues such as the National Philharmonic or Polish Radio Lutosławski Studio.
Speaking of the National Philharmonic, that same evening this venerable hall was the scene of what IMiT Dir. Andrzej Kosowski called “the event of the Lutosławski Year”—and, as the appointed coordinator of the far-reaching celebrations of the 2013 Lutosławski Year, he would be the authority on that subject. This event was also the hottest ticket of the WA Festival, the price of which ranged from 50 PLN to a nearly unheard of 400 PLN. The event was a rare concert appearance of the elusive Polish piano virtuoso, Krystian Zimerman, performing with the National Philharmonic Orchestra and its new Artistic Director, Jacek Kaspszyk. Unfortunately, this reviewer was unable to secure admission to the sold-out concert, however some of the stories swirling around the event were as intriguing as perhaps the concert itself. Mere days before he was to perform the concert, Zimerman hurt one of his fingers severely and was unable to rehearse with the Phil as scheduled. Thanks to acute intervention by one of Warsaw’s best sports medicine doctors, however, Zimerman was able to perform the concert—thank goodness, otherwise there might have been a riot in Warsaw! The highly-anticipated concert was a replica of a program from 25 years prior—consisting of Lutosławski’s Piano Concerto (1988 – the prior performance was piece’s premiere) and Lutosławski’s Symphony No. 3 (1983)— which had been performed by Zimerman and the Phil with Witold Lutosławski on the conductor’s stand. The musicianship of the 2013 jubilee concert was highly commended in the press throughout Poland, but the more endearing aspect of Zimerman’s performance was his warmth towards the audience and towards Lutosławski in absentia, as he honored the maestro who had been inspired to write the Concerto for Zimerman 25 years before.
On the stage of the National Philharmonic, Krystian Zimerman kisses the score of the Piano Concerto,
The next day produced another sold-out WA concert, this time in the Polish Radio Lutosławski Studio at 7:30 p.m. Entitled the “Andrzej Chłopecki in memoriam” concert, it celebrated the musicologist, critic, broadcaster and champion of contemporary music who passed away just a year before (read the insightful program notes about Chłopecki, including tributes from many friends and colleagues, here). The pieces performed at this concert were all inspired by or dedicated to Chłopecki with varying degrees of intimacy, perhaps most so in the work that was given its world premiere during the evening: Paweł Szymański’s Epilogue for chamber orchestra. Epilogue begins in a delicate and solidly tonal manner then, like a gentle sunrise marred by the onslaught of morning traffic, it melts down into an unsettlingly effective musical chaos that mirrors the text from Psalm 68 (69) on which the work is based: “I sink in deep mire, where there is no standing: / I am come into deep waters, where the floods overflow me.” This piece, as well as Marcin Bortnowski’s And There Was No More Sea, were performed with great control and precision by conductor Marek Moś and his AUKSO Chamber Orchestra of the City of Tychy. Also on the program was Martin Smolka’s quasi-minimalist Tears for string trio (1983), performed hauntingly by three members of AUKSO. Finally beginning the second half of the program, perhaps most famously but least interestingly, was the Polish premiere of Paweł Mykietyn’s Wax Music(2012) that, despite its deeply thoughtful conception and construction, mostly comes off as so much technical fuss for so little musical return. The program was capped off with Onutė Narbutaitė’s Melody in the Garden of Olives, commissioned by Chłopecki’s own Velvet Curtain Festival in 2000.
The stage of the Polish Radio Lutosławski Studio set for Wax Music,
Next, on Tuesday, September 24 at 7:30 p.m., I was invited to the National Philharmonic Hall by the Philharmonic’s General Director, Wojciech Nowak, for the performance of Krzysztof Penderecki’s Passio et Mors Domini Nostri Jesu Christi secundum Lucam (1962-66). This concert was special for me in two ways: it was both my first opportunity to hear a concert in the unique National Philharmonic Hall, and my first live experience of a major orchestral-choral work by the inimitable Penderecki. The often overwhelming wall of sound that Penderecki creates with his dense writing for 3 mixed choirs, orchestra and boys’ choir was heightened by the exposed intimacy of the Phil’s all-white and fully lit Hall, and I found the overall experience of the venue unfortunately more eye-opening than the almost fifty year-old composition itself.
My last concert at the 2013 Warsaw Autumn served up another intriguing round of premieres on September 25 at 7:30 p.m. at the Lutosławski Studio. Featuring works for various orchestral ensembles and choir, the evening presented an eclectic mix of works that struck me with varying degrees of success. The program opened with a WA commission, Zbigniew Bargielski’s Concert for Piano, Percussion and Symphony Orchestra, which felt like a jazzy circus of sound—this auditory impression was aided by the antics of Szymon Strzelczyk, the “piano player’s assistant” (and probably the least important and yet most distracting person on stage), who often seemed as if he was performing exotic rituals over the piano’s strings rather than merely placing preparatory items on them. Following the Bargielski was Bruno Mantovani’s Cantata No. 4 for accordion, cello and voices, a piece that took full advantage of both the virtuosity of cellist Magdalena Bojanowicz (who together with her partner in the TWOgether Duo, accordionist Maciej Frąkiewicz, won last year’s coveted “Polityka Passport Award”) and the beauty and precision of the Katowice City Singers’ Ensemble ‘Camerata Silesia’.
Next on the program, Rafał Augustyn’s Tam. Music for Violin, Voices and Instruments presented a new set of challenges for both performer and listener, who had to discern from Augustyn’s wall of sound how the voices and solo violin fit, both tonally and aesthetically, with the orchestra. Although I was never quite convinced, the feat was carried off with a bravura performance by the members of the Wrocław Philharmonic Choir, and violinist Christine Pryn, who gave the world premiere of this work dedicated to her. The final piece on the program, Stanisław Krupowicz’s Machinae coelestes, emerged first as only computer-generated ambisonics that utilized all of the technical advantages of a hall such as the Lutosławski Studio to their fullest effect. Another world premiere commissioned by WA and the Space Research Centre PAS, I wondered if this first performance suffered from limited preparation time—for example, the beautifully pure tone of soprano soloist Magdalena Szostak-Krupowicz seemed hindered at times by a lack of command of the music and a level of discomfort with that moment on stage.
Although I have been reporting on Warsaw Autumn from afar since 2003, nothing can compare to experiencing in the flesh an event with such historical value and wide-reaching effects around the world of music. While not every moment or composition I experienced was life-altering—as one presenter at the Polska Music Now debate pointed out, for every Mozart Piano Concerto that a generation creates, it also produces thousands of works that will never make it beyond the dust bin of time—the overall adventure was abundant with the life that contemporary music breathes into the world. I do hope that the Festival will continue to expand its scope and welcome in those works and composers that are not only popular within academic circles but also those making waves amongst audiences around the world. Warsaw Autumn has long established itself as a stronghold of avant-garde ideals and, as the definition of what is truly cutting edge continues to change with every new idea expressed, the Festival will be able to maintain its influence most convincingly by honoring all creative paths within Poland and beyond.
KWIECIEŃ AND BECZAŁA OPEN MET 2013/2014 SEASON
The 2013-2014 season of the Metropolitan Opera opened on the September 23 with an opulent production of Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin, featuring the acclaimed baritone Mariusz Kwiecień as Onegin and tenor Piotr Beczała as Lenski, lending a double touch of Polish intensity to the Russian classic. While Beczała and Kwiecień hardly lack international recognition, opening the Met's fall season alongside soprano Anna Netrebko and conductor Valery Gergiev in one of that vaunted company's most lavish production is nevertheless an ennoblement for any opera star. The Met’s Eugene Onegin was a co-production a Metropolitan Opera and English National Opera
Deborah Warner, the production's director, emphasized that her cast possess not only incredible voices, but are outstanding actors, all of which she believes will translate into an exceptional rendering of Tchaikovsky’s opera:
Kwiecień and Beczała are no strangers to the overwhelming forces of life and passion. Kwiecień starred in three Met productions in 2012-2013: Lucia di Lammermoor, Don Giovanni and The Elixir of Love. Beczała is equally in demand. In an interview with The Examiner, the tenor speaks of having "operatic marathons," for example in February 2009, when he played in four Met productions in a mere seven days. He adds that he would gladly perform Polish operas more frequently, especially those of Szymanowski and Moniuszko:
The premiere of Eugene Onegin and the gala season opening was held in a politically charged atmosphere. An online petition in August had requested that Netrebko and Gergiev be withdrawn from the production to protest Russian President Putin’s harsh stance against homosexuality. The petition had also requested that the production be dedicated to the LGBT community. Peter Gelb, the Met general manager, stated that the Met stood for human rights but that getting involved in the conflict would overstep an art institution’s mandate.
Reviews unanimously lauded Beczała for his performance. The NY Daily News writes that “his performance was velvety and robust — and not at all cloudy.” Kwiecień was also warmly praised, although with a few comments on glitches during his opening performance.
Anthony Tommasini, in a review for The New York Times, writes that:
Similarly, Anne Midgette of the Washington Post postulated that:
The performance will also be available in cinemas all over the world as part of The Met: Live in HD series. The on-screen version of the performance will first be shown on the 5th of October.
ALEGRIJA UNCOVERS LITTLE-KNOWN POLISH GEM
Polish composer Jan Baptysta Kleczyński (1756-1828) was a Mozart contemporary, and also active as a composer in Vienna. The recording of his String Trios, Op. 4 by Trio Alegrija was highly-praised by Paweł Chmielowski of Muzyka 21 (September 2013). According to the reviewer, works by this little-known composer “charm with classical proportions, elegance and tight formal design, [as well as] beautiful melodic lines and masterful grasp of the ensemble textures… Listening to Trio Alegrija is undoubtedly a joyous experience. Everything on this recording is exactly right, and one could say that it’s held in classical proportions—the repertoire choice, performance, and technical mastery of the recording itself.”
[Source: Muzyka 21 pre-release]
PREMIERE PIANO TRIO RECORDINGS ON CD ACCORD
Landscape of Memories
According to Beata Bolesławska-Lewandowska (transl. Jacek Lesiński) on the CD Accord website:
PR EXPERIMENTAL STUDIO RELEASES ON NEW POLISH LABEL
This CD anthology was produced as a continuation of the exhibition Sounding the Body Electric realized by the Muzeum Sztuki in Łódź, Poland in 2012 and presented again by Calvert 22 Gallery in London in 2013. The exhibition was curated by David Crowley and Daniel Muzyczuk.
According to Bolt Records curator Michał Libera and Bolt Records producer Michał Mendyk, presented in the liner notes of this CD set:
* * * * *
The CD Solitude of Sounds: in memoriam Tomasz Sikorski is a collection of works created in Polish Radio Experimental Studio by Polish pioneer of minimalism, Tomasz Sikorski, and by his friends and followers.
According to composer Kasia Głowicka via Bôłt Records:
MEYER ON NAXOS
Standing at the heart of award-winning Polish composer Krzysztof Meyer’s output are his symphonies and string quartets. The first four quartets chart his development over an important decade, from the 1963 First Quartet, Op 8 to the strikingly powerful Fourth of 1974. Whether structured in a single span—as in the Second with its hints of Bartók—or more formally devised in three movements, Meyer’s work is at the forefront of contemporary European quartet writing, showing some allegiance to, but differences from, the quartets of his compatriots Penderecki and Lutosławski. This is the fourth and final volume of the complete Quartets.
Since its foundation in 1998 the Wieniawski String Quartet has established itself as one of the leading chamber music ensembles in Poland. The members of this Poznań-based ensemble are all players in the Polish Radio Chamber Orchestra “Amadeus,” conducted by Agnieszka Duczmal: Jarosław Żołnierczyk, leader of the orchestra, Mirosław Bocek, principal of the second violin section, Lech Bałaban, of the viola section, and Maciej Mazurek, of the cello section. The quartet’s repertoire ranges from the classical to the contemporary. Recordings include String Quartets Nos. 1 and 2 by Karol Szymanowski and Grażyna Bacewicz’s Quartet No. 4.
The Wienawski String Quartet have recorded 3 other volumes in this series devoted to the string quartets of Krzysztof Meyer: Quartets No. 5, 6 and 8 (Naxos 8.570776); Quartets No. 9, 11 and 12 (Naxos 8.572656) and Quartets No. 7, 10 and 13 (Naxos 8.573001).
CD REVIEW/PERSONALITY PROFILE - KINGA AUGUSTYN
Love violin music? Do you want to listen to the best Polish composers performed by one of the best young Polish violinists of her generation? Kinga Augustyn will amaze you with her sensitivity and virtuosity. Joined by pianist Efi Hackmey, she offers excellent performances of some of the most famous Polish composers such as Paderewski, Lutosławski and Górecki as well as those less known, including Zarzycki, Noskowski (the teacher of prominent Polish composer-conductor Grzegorz Fitelberg), Lipiński and Drożdżewski.
These composers and their compositions are from the late eighteenth century through the early twenty-first century. Four centuries represented on only one CD...amazing!
According to the Naxos website:
Award-winning violinist Kinga Augustyn has made many guest appearances, including performances with the Magdeburg Philharmonic, the Wrocław Philharmonic, the Leopoldinum and the Glacier Symphony. She has performed at Carnegie Hall (Stern Auditorium and the Weill Recital Hall), Alice Tully Hall, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Paderewski Festival in Paso Robles, and Bargemusic, among others. As a member of Trio 21, collaborating with pianist Jeffrey Biegel and cellist Robert DeMaine, she has recorded Kenneth Fuchs’s Falling Trio (Naxos), and Glen Roven’s Runaway Bunny with Catherine Zeta-Jones as a narrator (GPR Records). Her earlier discography includes Michael White’s Quartet for Piano and Strings (Albany) and Paganini’s 24 Caprices for Solo Violin (Luna). She holds degrees from the Juilliard School, where she studied with Dorothy DeLay, Cho-Liang Lin, and Naoko Tanaka. She is a doctoral candidate at Stony Brook University.
This dynamic duo delivers a wonderful tribute to these sparkling examples of Polish violin repertoire. Special thanks to NAXOS for bringing these great Polish composers and their compositions to the forefront of archival-quality recordings of classical music, especially those mostly forgotten and rarely, if ever, recorded.
POLISH VIOLIN MUSIC – simply splendid!
Gary Fitelberg is a musicologist, music critic and historian specializing in Polish music and musicians.
BORN THIS MONTH:
DIED THIS MONTH:
Send your comments and inquiries to: email@example.com
Newsletter Editor: Krysta Close
Translation Assistance: Marek Żebrowski
Layout Assistance: Charles Bragg
Krysta Close, Joseph A. Herter, Wladek Juszkiewicz,
Gary Fitelberg, Modjeska Club of Art and Culture, Diane Shaw, Marek Żebrowski
Sources of information: Polish Cultural Institute (NY & UK), Adam Mickiewicz Institute, PWM,
Nowy Dziennik, Polish Music Information Centre - Warsaw, Polish American Journal,
Poland.pl, PAP, ZKP, Kosciuszko Fdn., Ruch Muzyczny, Gazeta Wyborcza
Formatting by Krysta Close, October 20, 2013.
The Polish Music Center includes all content on a space available basis. We reserve the right to refuse any content submitted.