|Polish Music Newsletter
March 2006, Vol. 12, No. 3. ISSN 1098-9188. Published monthly.
Los Angeles: Polish Music Center, University of Southern California
On Saturday evening, March 11, the Pacific Unitarian Church will present a concert of Polish music featuring pianist and composer Andrzej Dutkiewicz. This concert will mark the only public performance in Los Angeles by Dutkiewicz while on his spring Southwestern United States tour.
The concert program will consist of works by Polish composers, from Chopin to some of the most important of the 20th and 21st century composers. One of the most important early 20th century Polish composers is Karol Szymanowski, and Dutkiewicz always includes one or more of his pieces in his concerts. For March 11, Dutkiewicz will perform Szymanowski's Etudes, opus 33. Also on the program will be works by Kazimierz Serocki and Bogusław Schaeffer.
In addition to being a virtuoso pianist, Dutkiewicz is an internationally renowned composer. During the evening's program, Dutkiewicz will perform his Three Sketches in Retrospect and his Suite for Piano.
March 11, 2005, 8:00 pm
Andrzej Dobber is a graduate of the Music Academy in Kraków. In 1990 he was the winner of the German Television Singer's Competition in Munich. This award opened the doors for him to perform with the best opera companies in the world, including La Scala, Amsterdam, Dresden, Paris and Berlin. He has sung under Riccardo Muti, Colin Davis, Roger Norrington and Zubin Mehta.
The Waterville Trio (pictured above) consists of Hélène Jeanney, piano, Hanna Lachert, violin, and Qiang Tu, cello. In describing this truly international ensemble, Derkowska can barely contain her admiration. Hanna Lachert's, "captivating phrasing, beautiful tone quality, always polished phrases and impeccable intonation—these are only some of the violinist's virtues revealed in the exposed parts of Piotr Lachert's 25th Sonata Le Coucou. On the piano and cello, "Jeanney represents a modestly noble style of music-making, winning the audience with her concentration of thoughts and emotions." And the cellist Qiang Tu also impressed the author with, "his beautiful cantilena and vivid and coloristically varied phrase line."
The 1st volume of the series, titled Musicology in Wrocław and edited by Maciej Gołąb is a product of the Polish-German-Ukrainian Conference that took place in 2003 on the Wrocław University campus. Articles included discuss the history of musicology in German Breslau as well as Polish Wrocław from the perspective of musical history at the Wrocław Universtity and Lwów Musicology School. This volume is published by Wrocław University Publications, Wroc?aw 2005.
This year's celebrations mark the 30th anniversary of the creation of the Karol Szymanowski Museum in Zakopane. The museum is housed in the Atma, a villa built around 1890. The first idea of creating a museum dedicated to Szymanowski came about in 1937. Another initiative was started 30 years later, then in 1972 the Warsaw Music Society bought Atma. Finally, in 1976 after renovations, the museum was opened to the public. During the week-long anniversary celebration, organizers have prepared concerts and lectures. For the full program go to: meloman.interia.pl/news?inf=722993
2005 marked the 200th anniversary of the birth of Jan Nepomucen Bobrowicz (1805-1881, Kraków), a prolific composer of great ingenuity and a virtuoso guitarist. On the occasion of this anniversary, several volumes of his music have been published. Robert Coldwell of Digital Guitar Archive has published his first volume of works by J.N. Bobrowicz, with an introduction in both English and Polish written by Krzysztof Komarnicki. This edition includes all of Bobrowicz's known variations in new engravings. More pieces recently discovered will be put into a second volume later this year. The title of the current edition is: J.N. de Bobrowicz Selected Works Volume I: Variations. The editions are published under DGA Editions, on the web at: www.digitalguitararchive.com
Eufonium, a Polish publishing house that focuses primarily on guitar music, was established in February 2005 with this concern: "It appears that Polish music of the 19th century (not only guitar music) needs careful examination. Moreover, some steps should be taken in order to restore the worthwhile works to the contemporary audience's awareness." (Jarek Pabisiak, April 2005). J.N. Bobrowicz is one of these great forgotten Polish composers, and Eufonium has taken the opportunity of his anniversary to publish two editions of Bobrowicz's works. They also have published works of Felix Horetzky and have plans to release more works by Horetzky, Chopin, and Szczepanowski. Visit Eufonium publishing at: www.eufonium.pl.
The American Academy of Arts and Letters has honored Polish composer and Helen B.& Frank L. Sulzberger Professor in Composition at the University of Chicago Marta Ptaszyńska (pictured at right) with the prestigious Benjamin H. Danks Creative Music Award for 2006, with a special distinction for opera and oratorio. The Benjamin H. Danks Award is given to an exceptional composer of large ensemble works. Candidates for the music awards are nominated by the 250 members of Academy. The Award will be presented at the Academy's headquarters in New York on the 17 May 2006.
The Warsaw Voice, a weekly Polish magazine, has awarded its Chair of the Year Award for 2005 to Rafał Blechacz, a young Polish pianist and winner of the 15th International Chopin Competition in Warsaw. Rafał Blechacz is the first musician to receive the 17-year-old award.
The Chair of the Year Award is given by the Warsaw Voice to the person or the institution that was important to Poland in that given year. The award is in the form of the director's chair.
This competition takes place once every two years in Copenhagen. The artists must prepare 80 minutes of repertoire from which the jury picks the performance pieces in the first two rounds. The artists have their choice in the final round. Trio Aristos performed pieces by Beethoven, Schubert, Webern, Norgard, Dohnányi, and Ysaye.
Karol Rathaus (1895-1954) wrote his Sonata No. 1 C minor Op 2 in 1920. The composition consists of four movements: (1) Grave e Maestro, (2) Lento con espressione, (3) Sherzo. Presto, and (4) Finale. Grave. Allegro energico.
The 1st movement follows the classical sonata form in every detail with its two contrasting subjects: the dramatic first subject in C minor, declaimed with great pathos, and the contrasting lyrical second subject beginning in the third-relationship of E flat major before appearing in C major at the recapitulation. Then E flat major is established as the principal key of the three-part 2nd movement, with its stormy middle section framed by two calm passages in a curious twilight mood. This twilight is the result of the harmonically ambivalent tritonic tension rooted in the alternating broken E Flat major in A major chords at the beginning of the movement.
The 3rd movement acts as a dominant to the E flat conclusion of the 2nd movement—a demonic scherzo in B flat minor. A tritone (C-G flat) again gains prominence at the onset of the movement, at first giving the movement a degree of harmonic instability, which is later given direction by the fortissimo cue of the bass octave B flat. Piu lento (Con sentimento) is the title of the nostalgic G flat major trio—a deliberately romantic episode colored with melancholy which stands in contrast with the incredibly complex, and at times rather dissonant, rondo-like Finale.
The numerous allusions to Eastern Jewish chants in this sonata are noteworthy. These are recognizable in the transition to the second subject of the 1st movement, but are particularly clear in the far-reaching melody at the beginning of the 2nd movement and in the melismatic motion circling around the smallest interval cells at the beginning of the 3rd movement. Perhaps these moments can be understood as a personal testimony on Rathaus' part to specific Jewish traditions in his East Galician home, as his childhood friend Soma Morgenstern impressively describes in his memoirs, In einer anderen Zeit [In a Different Time] (Luneburg: zu Klampen 1995.)
In his 1st Piano Sonata, composed in one movement in the year 1926, Jerzy Fitelberg strives for the utmost concentration regarding the formal conception as well as the piano setting, which is characterized by crystal-clear polyphony in the neo-baroque spirit. The rapid succession of marked, at times grotesque, segments is a distinguishing feature of the sonata, as are the imaginative yet always organic shifts between tonal, polytonal and free tonal movements far removed from academic formula. Within a brief space, passages of strict style inspired by Bach are linked with elements of jazz and popular music of the 1920's in a humorous, pianistically brilliant manner and a toccata-like "drive" is contrasted with halting syncopated rhythms.
The difference between Karol Rathaus' emotive 1st Piano Sonata and the extremely brief form of Jerzy Fitelberg's 1st Piano Sonata could hardly be greater—Fitelberg's deliberate rejection of all late-romantic and impressionistic influences is typical of the "atmosphere of departure" displayed by the generation of composers born after 1900, for whom the magical sound of Schreker's works seemed far less attractive than the rhythmic force and instrumentation skills of Stravinsky. Comparison reveals remarkable parallels between Fitelberg's 1st Piano Sonata and the finale of Goldschmidt's 1st Piano Sonata Op. 10, also composed in 1926, and a similarly light, crystal-clear piano setting based on baroque models is to be found in the Suite (1928) by Zdenka Ticharich, who studied with Schreker from 1923 to 1925. Fitelberg's sonata, the earliest documented performance of which was given by Kurt Applebaum on July 17, 1928 at a recital evening by Walter Gmeindl's composition class in the concert hall of the Hochschule für Musik in Berlin, is not only typical of the stylistic preferences of Schreker's composition class in the mid-1920's, but also characteristic of major anti-romantic tendencies in the music of that decade.
The first CD in the set features Stanisław Moniuszko's concert overture Bajka [Fairy Tale]; Zygmunt Noskowski's symphonic poem Step [The Steppe], Op. 66; Grzegorz Fitelberg's symphonic poem Pieśń o Sokole [Song about a Falcon]; Witold Lutosławski's symphonic version of Mała suita [Little Suite], consisting of three movements: Fujarka [A Pipe], Hurra Polka and Piosenka [A Song]; as well as Mieczysław Karłowicz's symphonic poem Episod na Maskaradzie [An Episode at a Masquerade], completed by Fitelberg after the composers tragic and untimely death while skiing in the Tatra mountains.
The second CD is solely devoted to the second greatest Polish composer after Chopin, Karol Szymanowski, with whom Fitelberg enjoyed a close companionship and collaboration. The first featured composition is none other than Szymanowski's Symphony No. 2 in B flat major, Op. 19, in three movements. The second is Szymanowski's Concerto No. 1 for Violin and Orchestra, Op. 35 featuring soloist Eugenia Umińska. The third features four fragments from the ballet Harnasie, including The Sheep are Driven to Pastures, A Highlander Dance, Highlander Robbers March and Highland Robbers Dance, inspired by the local townspeople of the Tatra mountains. The forth composition featured is Pieśń Roksany [Roxana's Song] from the opera Krol Roger [King Roger]. The fifth and final Szymanowski piece is Nocturne and Tarantella, op. 28 which was arranged and orchestrated by Fitelberg.
CONCERTS AND PERFORMANCES
The Janaki Trio is proving to be one of today's fastest-rising young ensembles and has created quite a buzz among Southland chamber music aficionados. Founded at the Colburn School's Conservatory of Music in February 2005, the ensemble consists of Serena Mckinney - violin, Katie Kadarauch - viola, and Arnold Choi - cello. The trio recently won Grand Prize at the 59th Annual Coleman Chamber Music Competition in May, which puts it in the rarified company of past winners such as Glenn Dicterow, Grant Gershon, Jeffrey Kahane, Paula Robison, Nathaniel Rosen, Morton Subotnick, the Ahn Trio, eighth blackbird, and the Tokyo String Quartet. In past months the Trio has performed at a variety of venues, including the Doheny Mansion, Zipper Hall, and Temple Beth Hillel, "Sundays At Two" at the Beverly Hills Library and the "Previews" at Trinity Lutheran, Manhattan Beach, in Dabney Lounge of Caltech's Lagerstrom Chamber Music Concerts, and LACMA's Sundays Live. Individually, its members study with Southern California's premier teachers: Robert Lipsett, violin; Paul Coletti, viola; Ronald Leonard, cello; and Yehuda Gilad, conductor (Colburn Orchestra). Serena McKinney performs on a Camillus Camilli violin (circa 1742) on loan to her from the Mandell Collection of Southern California; Katie Kadarauch performs on a viola by Bartolmeo Obici (Verona, 1748); and Arnold Choi performs on a Carl Becker cello made in 1916.
By Gary FitelbergOn January 23rd, 2006 the Penderecki String Quartet delighted the audience with its superb musicianship and tremendous performance of Leo Janacek's String Quartet No. 1, Kreutzer Sonata (1923), the World Premiere of Laurie Radford's Everything We See in the Sky (2005), and Christopher Rouse's String Quartet No. 2 (1988), as well as a rousing encore of one of the movements from Bartok's Fifth String Quartet. With Jeremy Bell and Jerzy Kaplanek as violinists, Christine Vlajk on viola and Simon Freyer on cello, the audience was guaranteed an electrifying and inspiring evening of music. Each one is a master of music.
The concert performance, the quartet's ninth consecutive appearance, took place at the final season of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) Monday Evening Concert Series. A complimentary wine reception was held following the concert.
The Penderecki String Quartet, approaching its third decade of an extraordinary career, has become one of the most celebrated chamber ensembles of their generation. They are in demand internationally and their performing schedule takes them around the world annually to the great concert stages of North and South America, Europe and the Far East. The recent schedule has included concerts in New York (Miller Theatre), Amsterdam (Concertgebouw), St. Petersburg (State Music Museum), Paris (University 8), New Haven (Yale University), Los Angeles (Bing Theatre) Atlanta (State University), Bloomington (Indiana University), Wieczory Arsenale Festival in Poland, Is Arti Festival in Lithuania, Rive-Gauche Festival in Italy, the Festival International de Musica in Venezuela, Musicarama festival in Hong Kong, and the Shanghai International Arts Festival. The Penderecki Quartet also has performed extensively in all major centers in Canada, from coast to coast.
The Penderecki String Quartet devotes much of its time to Quarterfest, an intensive Spring-term seminar held at Wilfred Laurier university in Waterloo, Ontario where invited guest faculty have included the Tokyo Quartet, the Ying Quartet, and the Colorado Quartet. The Penderecki Quartet also pride's itself in their mission to be the best in active education involvement worldwide. This year they will enter their 14th year as Quartet in Residence at Waterloo's Wilfred Laurier University, their year-round commitment to education. Under the Quartet's direction, the University's string program has become one of the top programs in Canada, attracting an international body of students.
The Penderecki Quartet was founded in Poland in 1986 at the urging of the pre-eminent Polish composer Krzysztof Penderecki. The fruit of their association includes the authoritative interpretation of Penderecki's complete works for String Quartet on CD (United Records, England.) To this day, the Quartet is completely devoted as a champion of the modern music. The repertoire is diverse and vast ranging from back to Brahms, Bartok to Ligeti, Frank Zappa to John Oswald. The group has given over 100 world premieres of new works by composers including Brian Cherney, Linda C. Smith, Randolph Peters, Harry freedman, Glen Buhr, Alice Ho, Peter Hatch, Omar Daniel and Gilles Trembley with assistance from the Canada Council, the Laidlaw Foundation, the CBC, the Ontario Arts Council and the Hong Kong Arts Development Council. The Penderecki String Quartet is now probably the most sought after ensemble for new and young composers today.
According to the Santa Barbara Independent, "The Penderecki String Quartet happily leads a double life...It has devoted considerable faith and energy to the contemporary music cause. Simultaneously it also flexes its artistry on standard repertoire turf, to dazzling ends."
Described by Fanfare Magazine as "an ensemble of formidable power and keen music sensitivity," the Penderecki String Quartet's large discography includes over 20 recordings including the chamber music repertoire of Johannes Brahms on both the Marquis and Electra labels, as well as a new release of the six Bela Bartók quartets, under the auspices of the Napa Valley Chamber Music Society (I'll drink some wonderful wine and make a toast to that one. Cheers!). The Quartet has also recorded CDs for CBC, CMC EMI, United and Artifact labels among others.
For additional information regarding the Penderecki String Quartet visit their website at http://info.wlu.ca/~wwwpsq/.
Copyright 2006 by the Polish Music