|Polish Music Newsletter|
CRACOW DUO AT PMC
For two weeks in February, Jan Kalinowski and Marek Szlezer conducted extensive research in the Polish Music Center’s Zygmunt and Luisa Stojowski Collection. The two performers, scholars, and faculty members at the Kraków Music Academy came to Los Angeles on a grant from their institution to survey the manuscripts of various cello and piano works by Zygmunt Stojowski.
Otherwise known as the Cracow Duo, Kalinowski and Szlezer were particularly interested in Stojowski’s Sonata for Cello and Piano, since the manuscript of it—together with a treasure trove of other scores and documents related to Stojowski and his wife—was donated to PMC by Stojowski’s family in 2006. Comparing the published editions with the manuscript proved very instructive for the two musicians who championed the Sonata by performing it on numerous occasions in a variety of concerts. Undoubtedly it’ll inform their upcoming interpretations of this work and it may also become a subject of a scholarly article published by the Kraków Music Academy in the coming year.
While researching Stojowski’s compositions, Kalinowski and Szlezer also turned their attention to Stojowski’s analytical writings, which form a considerable portion of the Stojowski Collection at PMC. In particular, the Kraków-based scholars were interested in Stojowski’s extensive commentary and fingering of Chopin’s Mazurkas. Since there are very few recordings of Stojowski’s performances, his writings and interpretative remarks on Chopin are of great interest to all pianists and musicians. Kalinowski and Szlezer plan to share the fruits of their research by publishing them under the aegis of the Kraków Music Academy.
Kalinowski and Szlezer pictured
The Cracow Duo’s visit at USC had another important component—official visits with the Dean of the USC Thornton School of Music, Robert Cutietta, and Ralph Kirshbaum, head of the Thornton String Program. As faculty at Kraków Music Academy, Kalinowski and Szlezer are eager to initiate a process of academic and artistic exchange between the two music schools. In this they are supported by Professor Zdzisław Łapiński, Rector of the Kraków Music Academy, who sent an official letter of invitation to Kraków for Dean Cutietta. There is a wide scope of possible cooperation, since the Polish Music Center and Thornton School of Music have much to offer to the Polish partners, just as Thornton students could benefit from programs and interactions with the Kraków Music Academy and its faculty through various academic exchange programs.
While on the USC campus, the Cracow Duo also participated in a conference on Music Diplomacy, organized by the USC Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism’s Association of Public Diplomacy Scholars. Marek Szlezer’s piano performance of works by Aleksander Tansman and participation in a discussion forum on the role of music in international relations rounded off this very productive and meaningful visit in Southern California.
CRACOW DUO SHINES AT NEWMAN
Performing with such extended techniques as using bow strings and hands on the piano strings
On Tuesday, 24 February, the large crowd gathered in USC’s Alfred Newman Recital Hall greeted the onstage entrance of cellist Jan Kalinowski and pianist Marek Szlezer—otherwise known as the Cracow Duo—with hearty applause. Without much fuss, the two young musicians quickly launched into Chopin’s Op. 3 Polonaise and dispatched it with just the right degree of salon grace and nonchalance. Far from telegraphing a traditional program to follow, the Chopin was simply a prelude to an exciting evening of rarely-heard music for cello and piano.
An American premiere of Krzysztof Meyer’s Drei Mal Vier, Op. 123, followed; its modern harmonies provided a good contrast to Chopin, while its virtuosity continued to showcase the ensemble. Written for German cellist Julius Berger, the work gave Kalinowski an opportunity to display his technical prowess, which was ably complemented by Szlezer’s pianistic skills.
Composed in 2014, Marcel Chyrzyński’s Farewell, is a contemplative and mostly melodic work that moved the audience with its genuinely-felt emotions rooted in a simple formal design. The two other contemporary works on the program—Tomasz J. Opałka’s The Glitch and Wojciech Widłak’s All My Angers—were also quite emotive, even if their impassioned musical message was couched in more modern harmonic language and communicated with a variety pf extended sound production techniques. Opałka’s use of bowing hair and gentle tapping of pianist’s palms on strings added haunting hues to the first part of The Glitch, while its second part—a relentless moto perpetuo—drove the piece to an explosive final cadence. Written especially for the Cracow Duo, the work’s world premiere was enthusiastically received by the audience at USC. Highly concentrated emotions also accompanied Widłak’s All My Angers, a bitter and brilliant work that took the Cracow Duo and the audience to the limits of tension, with thick sound textures and colors that culminated in a slamming down of the piano lid at the end of the piece.
Two major works by Aleksander Tansman—a one-movement Fantaisie (1936) and the three-movement Cello Sonata No. 2 (1930)—provided the centerpiece of Cracow Duo’s recital program. Both works owe much to the mid-twentieth century French modernism, with a liberal dose of jazz harmonies. Written idiomatically for cello and piano, these gems of chamber music literature deserve much more stage exposure. As it was, on this occasion the Cracow Duo displayed their musicianship and skill to great advantage in Tansman’s difficult but very effective music. The Fantaisie had just the right amount of freedom and flexibility within its gently-swaying, bluesy episodes, while the Sonata—especially in its last movement—had plenty of sparkle and elegance in its virtuoso design. Kalinowski and Szlezer have recorded these works before and clearly felt at home performing them for the Los Angeles audience. Here’s a wish that they introduce the Tansman—as well as his Polish composer contemporaries—to many more appreciative audiences all around the world.
MEASURING UP TO FILM
This year’s PMC spring concert is a joint collaboration between the PMC, the USC Thornton School of Music’s Composition Department, and the USC School of Cinematic Arts. Entitled “Measures & Frames” and presented by Visions & Voices—USC’s Arts and Humanities Initiative—the evening will combine music and film, seeking to discover the hidden and serendipitous connections between these two disciplines. In a way, the March 28 event at USC’s Alfred Newman Recital Hall will harken back to the early days of silent films, where images were accompanied by live musical performance. The audience will have a chance to experience the merging of music and video imagery, created by leading composers and filmmakers and performed by the Penderecki String Quartet and soprano Rebekah Barton.
The second movement of Polish composer Joanna Bruzdowicz’s String Quartet No. 1 “La Vita” will accompany fragments of Agnès Varda’s celebrated film, Vagabond, a moving depiction of a homeless young woman’s tragic last days of life. The three movements of Jeff Holmes’s String Quartet No. 2 “Kirurgi” will be paired to video projections specially created for the event by Michael Patterson and Candace Reckinger, two animation artists and faculty at USC School of Cinematic Arts.
In addition, together with a group of talented USC animation students, Patterson and Reckinger have created stunning video projections for two other string quartet works on the March 28 program: Arcadiana by Thomas Adès and midaregami by Veronika Krausas. Commissioned by the Endellion Quartet and the Holst Foundation, Adès’s Arcadiana dates from 1994 and explores the concept of vanishing idylls. Spanning seven movements, its odd-numbered movements are connected to watery images and even-numbered ones to pastoral, “arcadian” environments. A 2006 commission from the Penderecki String Quartet and the Canada Council for the Arts, Veronika Krausas’s midaregami [Tangled Hair] adds a soprano solo to the string quartet. Based on a collection of poems by Akiko Yosano (1878-1942), the music reflects the delicate, fleeting imagery contained in seven short poems-vignettes depicting idealized love.
The evening’s musical and filmic presentation will conclude with Fire (Pożar), a 10-minute animation by David Lynch accompanied by Music for David, a 2015 string quartet composition by Marek Zebrowski. A Q&A with the performers, filmmakers and composers will follow directly after the concert.
With three screens framing the back of the stage, Alfred Newman Recital Hall will be transformed for the event. Digital projectors installed especially for the occasion will provide a unique visual experience for the public. Throughout the evening, the celebrated Penderecki String Quartet from Toronto will take the Center stage to interpret the music by Adès, Bruzdowicz, Holmes, Krausas and Zebrowski. The quartet’s challenge will be to perfectly synchronize the music to films by Lynch and Varda as well as to visualizations provided by Patterson and Reckinger.
Widely acknowledged as one of the most prominent chamber ensembles today, the Penderecki String Quartet has concertized throughout the United States and Canada, as well as Europe, South America, and the Far East. The Quartet champions contemporary music and have premiered over 100 new works from composers all across the world. They have also recorded works by Brahms, Bartók, Beethoven, and Penderecki, among others. The Penderecki String Quartet members include violinists Jeremy Bell and Jerzy Kapłanek, violist Christine Vlajk and cellist Katie Schlaikjer, all members of the faculty of music at Laurier University where they coordinate one of the best string programs in the world.
PENDERECKI Chamber Works, Vol 1 (DUX 0780), Dedications: works for cello and piano (DUX 0986) and Polish Cello Music (DUX 0925) are 3 CDs donated by the Jan Kalinowski and Marek Szlezer of the Cracow Duo, during their recent time in the PMC. See above for discussions of their scholarly activities and performances.
Two LPs—The Film Music of Bronislaw Kaper and the Musical Heritage Society's Frédéric Chopin Preludes (Complete)—were donated by Ewa Damska-Muchnik, a great friend of the PMC whose family was close with the Kapers.
Thank you all for expanding the PMC collection!
NOWAK PREMIERE & OPERA CONFERENCE IN POZNAŃ
The Grand Theatre in Poznań had commissioned a new opera by Aleksander Nowak, Space Opera, czyli mężczyzna, kobieta i…. [Space Opera, or a Man, a Woman, and…], which will be premiered in Poznań on March 14, 2015. The libretto of the opera is by Georgi Gospodinow and the premiere will be conducted by Marek Moś.
In conjunction with this event, an International Opera Conference was organized in Poznań for March 15-17. The goal of the conference is to examine the genre of musical theatre in the context of technological, cultural and economic transformations that are occurring at this time. The conference will seek answers to such questions as whether composing and staging contemporary opera is worth it, how to prepare viewers for contemporary operas, and how contemporary cultural organizations should face such a task.
The honorary patrons of the conference include the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage with Minister Małgorzata Omilanowska, Opera Europa Society, Adam Mickiewicz Institute, Institute of Music and Dance, Paderewski Music Academy in Poznań, and Economics University in Poznań.
BLECHARZ PREMIERE IN GRAZ
On February 13, the World Premiere of ocean is not enough for 13 performers by Wojtek Blecharz was given by the Klangforum Wien, conducted by Clemont Power. This new work by Blecharz was commissioned as a part of Klangforum’s “impuls” program, and the premiere took place during the impuls Festival 2015.
Impuls promotes and supports young composers not only within its Academy, but also through the impuls Composition Competition. impuls commissions up to 6 new works for ensemble every second year from young composers selected by a jury. Subsequently these composers are invited to take part in the impuls Composition Workshop in Vienna and Graz – where their new works are collectively rehearsed and discussed extensively with musicians of world-class ensembles such as Klangforum Wien– as well as to the premiere of their new pieces within the impuls Academy and Festival in Graz. Impuls also intends to support the composers' works beyond that through recordings respectively broadcasting and additional concerts.
PWM CELEBRATES 70 YEARS
Poland’s premiere music publishers, Polskie Wydawnictwo Muzyczne SA (PWM), celebrates 70 years of operations in 2015. It is appropriate that this anniversary lines up with the PMC’s own celebration of 35 years, as it was the close relationship with PWM—cultivated by PMC founder Wanda Wilk—that led to the development of the PMC’s extensive collection of published music.
Below is a note from Daniel Cichy, PhD—PWM’s Editor-in-Chief—on the occasion of the anniversary:
[Sources: press release]
TWARDOWSKI CELEBRATIONS IN LUBLIN
In 2015 the world will celebrate the 85th birthday of Romuald Twardowski. Born in 1930 in Vilnius, Twardowski is one of the greatest composers of Polish choral music. Apart from vocal works, he is also the author of numerous theatre and symphonic compositions. His keen sense for melodic invention, instrumentation, original form and the unique communicative value of the musical language make the Twardowski’s music strongly appreciated by audiences. Six manuscripts of works by Twardowski are held in the PMC’s Manuscript Collection—the composer is shown at right, celebrating the donation of his manuscripts with former PMC director Maja Trochimczyk, during a donation ceremony at the Polish Composers’ Union on September 23, 2000.
In addition to many concerts of Twardowski’s choral works, events planned to mark his anniversary also include concerts of instrumental music. One of them will take place on March 20, 2015, when the Lublin Philharmonic Orchestra will perform fragments of the ballet Nagi książę [The Naked Prince] by Romuald Twardowski. The concert is part of the Orchestra’s 2nd Festival of the Wieniawski Brothers, the concert will feature another pair of musical brothers: violinist Paweł Wajrak and conductor Piotr Wajrak.
The Naked Prince ballet was composed in 1960 to a libretto written by the composer on the basis of Hans Christian Andersen's tale The Emperor's New Clothes. Consisting of short and charming forms within the convention of brilliant Baroque courtly dances, the ballet immediately drew the attention of the legendary Bohdan Wodiczka, who often performed it.
On March 13, the Warsaw National Philharmonic will celebrate the 80th birthday of Maestro Tadeusz Strugała, who has long been associated with the Philharmonic and continues to serve as deputy Artisitic Director and permanent guest conductor. Since his career began 60 years ago, as an oboist with the Wrocław Symphony Orchestra, Strugała has been a vigorous organizer of musical life—not only in Poland, but around the world. Read more about Tadeusz Strugała’s extensive career at culture.pl or www.strugala.com
For his anniversary concert on March 13, Maestro Strugała will lead the Warsaw Philharmonic and violinist Vadim Gluzman in a program that includes Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overture, Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto in E minor Op. 64, Schubert’s Symphony No. 4 in C minor “Tragic” D 417, and Mahler’s Adagietto from Symphony No. 5.
STAŃKO AT JAZZ BAKERY IN L.A.
On Saturday, March 28, Polish trumpeter Tomasz Stańko and his New York Quartet (including pianist David Virelles, bassist Reuben Rogers and drummer Gerald Cleaver) will take the stage at the Jazz Bakery in Los Angeles. This performance will be largely dedicated to the poetry of Wisława Szymborska—the Polish poet, essayist and Nobel Laureate—who is also the subject of Stańko’s latest acclaimed recording “Wisława” (ECM - 2 CD set).
WARSAW PHIL ON WARNER CLASSICS
The first concert played by the Warsaw National Philharmonic in its hall, newly-reconstructed after war-time destruction, was given on February 21, 1955. The recording of this historic concert—now digitally re-mastered by Grammy Award winning sound engineers Aleksander Nagórko and Andrzej Sasin—has been released on the Warner Classics label under the title Warsaw Philharmonic Archives: The 1st Concert 1955. This CD is the first in Warner’s new series “Warsaw Philharmonic Archives,” in which re-mastered recordings of some of the most important concerts given by the orchestra since 1955 will be made available.
Although the CD was officially released on February 23, 2015, early copies of it were available on February 20 and 21 during the National Philharmonic’s 60th Anniversary of the First Concert in the New Building event. This concert featured guest conductor Nicholas Collon and piano soloist Ingrid Jacoby in a program of Mozart repertoire.
According to the external service of Polish Radio:
Included with this first release are two booklets devoted to the Philharmonic. Entitled "Yesterday and Today," they contain discussions of the event and biographies of Witold Rowicki and Wanda Wiłkomirska, provided by the eminent musicologist Stanisław Dybowski, as well as selected contemporary reviews and numerous archival photos. A short commemoration given by Wiłkomirska is also included, evoking the unique atmosphere of that special concert played in her recently rebuilt hometown.
SVRČEK PERFORMS BACEWICZ
On March 17 in the Colburn School of Music’s Zipper Hall in Downtown Los Angeles, pianist and contemporary music specialist Susan Svrček will perform Grażyna Bacewicz’s Sonata No. 2 (1953) on a Piano Spheres program cheekily entitled “Oh, for the love of...”. Also on the program are: Domenico Scarlatti’s Three Sonatas, Lou Harrison’s Six Sonatas, Chen Yi’s China West Suite and Julia Gomelskaya’s Gutsulka-dance performed with percussionist Yuri Inoo, and the World Premiere of Frederick Lesemann’s Preludes 4, 5, and 8.
Svrček previously performed the Bacewicz 2nd Sonata at USC during the PMC’s “Szymanowski and Modern Music” concert, which was held in Newman Recital Hall on March 22, 2007—read a review of her performance in the April 2007 Newsletter.
Susan Svrček is noted for her wide range of repertoire, from Mozart and Beethoven to Xenakis and Boulez – she has premiered works by Joan Huang, Benjamin Lees, Frederick Lesemann, Hyo-shin Na, Jeffrey Holmes, and Sean Heim. She is the pianist in the Los Angeles Horn Trio with violinist Jacqueline Suzuki and hornist Steven Durnin. Her solo engagements include The Boston Museum of Fine Art to Tokyo’s Zero Hall, Art Hall in Seoul, and Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles. Svrcek has recorded for CRI, Cambria, and ORFEO. Her performance of John Cage’s Sonatas and Interludes for Prepared Piano has been released by Centaur.
Piano Spheres’ programs are made possible in part by a grant from the City of Los Angeles, Department of Cultural Affairs and by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors through the Los Angeles County Arts Commission. Programs are also made possible, in part, by grants from the Colburn Foundation; Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation; New Music USA; The Aaron Copland Fund for Music and the National Endowment for the Arts.
[Source: press release via pianospheres.org]
CHOPIN’S 205th BIRTHDAY CELEBRATIONS
Vietnamese pianist Dang Thai Son joined the National Philharmonic Orchestra in Warsaw at a special Fryderyk Chopin birthday concert on Sunday, March 1, marking the 205th anniversary of Chopin's birth. In 1980, Dang Thai Son became the first Asian pianist to win the prestigious Chopin Competition, and indeed any major international piano competition. On March 1, Dang began the evening with solo works by Maurice Ravel, and then was joined by the National Philharmonic and Artistic Director Jacek Kaspszyk for Chopin's Piano Concerto No. 2 in D Minor.
Chicago, IL, USA
Despite freezing winter temperatures, Chopin lovers in Chicago were not deterred from their celebration of the great pianist’s 205th birthday. On March 1, supporters of the Chicago Chopin Foundation gathered at the future site of the Chopin Monument and Garden in Grant Park on the Lake Michigan waterfront to celebrate the occasion and raise money for the Monument—a planned 5/8 replica of the iconic monument of Chopin that stands in Warsaw's Royal Baths Park, designed in 1907 by Wacław Szymanowski.
Chopin’s anniversary was honored with cake and a non-alcoholic toast, supplemented of course with warm beverages provided by Sawa’s Old Warsaw restaurant, a hearty supporter of the Chopin Monument effort. Money was raised by selling lottery tickets for the March 2 Chicago Civic Orchestra performance of Thomas Adès’ Asyla and Stravinsky’s Petrushka, and a luxury edition package of Chopin Vodka. Chilly revelers then retired to the warmer indoor space of Piano Forte for a concert of Chopin’s music, interspersed with interesting facts about Chopin’s life and career, performed by local pianist Jarek Golembiowski.
LIRA 50 YEAR JUBILEE BENEFIT CONCERT
As the Lira Ensemble celebrates their ‘Joyous Jubilee’ of 50 years, the Consulate General of the Republic of Poland in Chicago and the Board of Directors of the Lira Ensemble invite all supporters to “Music Just for Lira” benefit concert in Chicago on March 11. Featuring the Lira Singers Quartet, the program will be comprised of music composed exclusively for Lira over the past 50 years— including sacred, patriotic & folk music. The evening begins with a reception with cocktails and canapes and concludes with a Polish-American Supper.
[Sources: press release, liraensemble.org]
PADEREWSKI AT SUNDAYS LIVE! IN L.A.
On March 15, the SUNDAYS LIVE! Chamber Music Series presents violinist Phillip Levy and pianist Rina Dokshitsky performing Paderewski’s Sonata for Violin and Piano, Op.13. Also on the program are Mozart’s Sonata in G Major, K301, and Prokofiev’s Five Melodies, Op.35.
Born in Cardiff, Wales, Phillip Levy received his musical training in Israel and Europe. Upon returning to England he joined the English Chamber Orchestra and the Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, with whom he also appeared as soloist. He led the London-based Locrian and Amphion String Quartets and was subsequently invited to give a performance of Bartók's Violin Duos on a BBC television broadcast with Sir Yehudi Menuhin.
Israeli pianist Rina Dokshitsky gave her first solo appearance at age thirteen with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra. At age twenty-one Ms. Dokshitsky won the Young Concert Artists International Auditions and subsequently made her debut recital at the 92nd Street Y and the Kennedy Center. She is a graduate of the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, where she earned a Bachelor and Master of Music and a Distinguished Artist Diploma.
Begun in 1948, SUNDAYS LIVE! is the longest-running music broadcast in Los Angeles. It presents weekly classical chamber music concerts and recitals by premier professional artists from Southern California and around the world. These one-hour concerts are presented free to the public at 6:00PM on Sundays in the Leo S. Bing Theater of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. No tickets or reservations are required, and all are welcome. Listen to the previous Sunday's concert streamed on-demand or downloaded as a podcast from the KUSC website.
[Source: Clickable Chamber Music Newsletter]
MARCIN DYLLA IN PASADENA
Polish classical guitarist Marcin Dylla returns to the Pasadena Conservatory of Music for a performance on the Guitar Nights concert series. Dylla will be joined by Rick Ruskin, contemporary fingerstyle guitarist Rick Ruskin on the same program.
Marcin Dylla has been hailed by The Washington Post as “among the most gifted guitarists on the planet.” Dylla has earned numerous awards, including 19 first prizes at the most prestigious international music competitions around the world. His last triumph was the Gold Medal of the ‘2007 Guitar Foundation of America International Competition’ in Los Angeles known as the most prestigious guitar contest in the world, followed by tour of over 50 cities in North America, Mexico, and Canada during 2008-09 season. Additionally, his live recital DVD “Wawel Royal Castle at Dusk” was nominated for 2010 Fryderyk Award (equal to American Grammy) in the category of Solo Classical Music Album of the Year.
WAWROWSKI & ŁUKASZEWSKI DECORATED
Two Polish musicians were recently awarded the Decoration of Honor “Meritorious for Polish Culture” from the Polish Ministry of Culture and National Heritage [MKiDN]: virtuoso violinist and cultural organizer Janusz Wawrowski, and pianist, theoretician and composer Marcin Tadeusz Łukaszewski. They were officially decorated at the Fryderyk Chopin University of Music in Warsaw by University Rector, Professor Jerzy Zimak, on February 23, 2015.
US NAT’L CHOPIN COMPETITION WINNERS
From February 20 to March 1, the 9th US National Chopin Piano Competition was organized by the Chopin Foundation of the United States in Miami. Following eight days of grueling competition, the nine Competition Jury members—Agustin Anievas, Chair, Sergei Babayan, Ian Hobson, Krzysztof Jabłoński, Kevin Kenner, Dean Kramer, Jon Nakamatsu, Katarżyna Popowa-Zydroń and Margarita Shevchenko—announced the prize winners on March 2.
Special Prizes ($1,000 each):
Winners of the third through six prizes also receive a paid trip to Warsaw, Poland, this April, to enable participation in the Preliminary Round of the International Chopin Piano Competition (if selected). The five semi-finalists not advanced to the finals receive $1,000 each.
[Source: press release via chopin.org]
2015 FRYDERYK AWARD NOMINATIONS
An equivalent of the American Grammy Awards, the Fryderyk Awards are organized by the Polish Society of the Phonographic Industry to honor the year’s best recordings by Polish musicians and of Polish music. On March 4, the nominations for the 2015 Fryderyk Awards were announced. Highlights from the category of classical music include:
For the full listing of this year’s nominees, visit: zpav.pl. The winners of the 21st edition of the Fryderyk Awards will be announced at the Polish Theater on April 23, and the ceremony will be broadcast on TVP2.
RSQ PERFORM MYKIETYN & SZYMAŃSKI ON HYPERION
Szymański & Mykietyn: Music for string quartet
Nominated for the prestigious Royal Philharmonic Society Chamber Music Award, the Royal String Quartet is one of the most dynamically developing string quartets in the world today. Established at the Fryderyk Chopin University of Music in Warsaw in 1998, the RSQ combines outstanding musical works of the past with contemporary music, bravely pushing musical genres.
According to the Hyperion website:
POLISH, AFRICAN AND ASIAN FOLK MUSIC CD
To celebrate the end of the Kolberg Year, the Masovian Cultural Institute [Mazowiecki Instytut Kultury] published a CD, Z Kolbergiem po Afryce I Azji. Multi Culti Orkiestra Marii Pomianowskiej. Make music not war. This album contains materials gathered by the multi-instrumentalist Maria Pomianowska during her tours of Africa and Asia between 2011 and 2014. This project linked musicians from Algeria, China, Egypt, Korea, Lebanon, Pakistan, Poland, Senegal and Tunisia in performances that highlighted links and similarities in the folk traditions spanning three continents.
A few samples of the 12 tracks on this CD are available for listening and downloading on the Mazowiecki Instytut Kultury website: www.mik.waw.pl. They include Kolberg’s tunes from his volume of folk melodies from the Radom area combined with Arabic music from Lebanon. Other tracks on the website include the fusion of the famous tune Oj Chmielu with the Algerian melody Marheba, and examples of polka and oberek from the Sandomierz region juxtaposed with Korean music in triple meter.
Although this recording is not for sale, copies of it can be obtained from the offices of Mazowiecki Instytut Kultury at 12 Electoralna Street in Warsaw. Music presented on this recording will also be featured in a July 2015 concert in a historic wooden church in Mariańskie Porzecze, about 50 miles south of Warsaw.
BELCHACZ AT WARSAW PHILHARMONIC
Pianist Rafał Blechacz, now thirty years old, is a rare guest in Poland these days, and the public welcomed his recent appearance with Warsaw Philharmonic under Jacek Kaspszyk on February 24.He was the featured soloist in Beethoven’s Third Piano Concerto, and the orchestra also programmed Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 that evening.
Writing for Rzeczpospolita, Jacek Marczyński concluded that:
Ten years ago Blechacz won the prestigious Chopin Competition in Warsaw. Since then he has recorded works by Chopin, Szymanowski, Debussy, Beethoven, Mozart and Haydn, among others for Deutsche Gramphon and has received the prestigious Gilmore Artist Award in 2014.
WEINBERG AND MEYER IN WARSAW
The Grand Theatre-National Opera began 2015 with one-time performances of two rarely heard but groundbreaking operas, presented by the Poznań Opera Theatre. The first was Mieczysław Weinberg’s The Portrait, with a libretto by Alexander Medvedev based on Nikolai Gogol’s short story, presented at the Moniuszko Auditorium on January 16. The performers of Poznań Opera Theatre were led by Maestro Gabriel Chmura and the opera was directed by David Pountney. The work was sung in Russian with Polish surtitles.
The Portrait a story of a poor artist who spends his last few pennies on a portrait at a flea market. Sometime later the figure in the portrait comes alive and begins to spit out money. It enables the artist to move up socially and gain respect of the society, but it comes at the expense of his life’s goals and artistic ideals.
According to many experts on music in the Soviet Union, after Sergei Prokofiev's death, Mieczysław Weinberg was the most interesting composer after Dmitri Shostakovich. Apart from Alexander Tansman and Andrzej Panufnik, Weinberg was one of the few Polish composers whose music attracted top-notch performers. Unfortunately Weinberg, who emigrated to Moscow at the outset of World War II, was practically unknown anywhere outside the Soviet Union. Only now his music is being gradually rediscovered and programmed all around the world.
The other musically noteworthy presentation by the Poznań Grand Theatre company was their production of Krzysztof Meyer’s opera, Cyberiada (1967), staged at the Grand Theatre-National Opera in Warsaw on January 18. This comical opera in three acts received its Polish premiere in Poznań in May of 2013, a part of celebrations of Meyer’s 70th birthday. The libretto (ably written by the composer) is based on the writings of famous Polish science fiction author, Stanisław Lem. It is a tale of Trull, an engineer charged by Queen Genialina with building three machines, one for telling complicated tales, the other for conniving stories, and the last for deeply moving narrations. The outcome is a conclusion that the world can be saved only by wisdom and truth, not by money, deceit or the quest for perfection. The performance was directed by Ran Arthur Braun and the musical director was Krzysztof Słowiński.
Writing in Polityka after the Poznań premiere, Dorota Szwarcman praised the playful nature of the music that represented the best tradition of Polish sonorism of the 1960s. Although the work was written in the late 1960s, the world premiere was given only in 1986 in Wuppertal, Germany. The Polish premiere had to wait until 2013 and a performance in Warsaw until earlier this year. Asked by Stefan Drajewski whether anything was changed or updated in the score since it was written, Krzysztof Meyer replied, “No. This is an opera from my youth and that’s how I wrote at that time. I’m afraid that now I could have only ruined it.” The very colorful manuscript of Cyberiada (pictured below) is held in the Manuscript Collection of the Polish Music Center at USC.
NEW JAZZ SERIES AT KOSCIUSZKO FDN IN D.C.
A new music series at the Kosciuszko Foundation in Washington, D.C., promoting Polish Jazz had its grand opening with a concert by Bogna Kicińska on Saturday, Feb. 21 at 6:30 p.m. A jazz vocalist, violinist, composer and an educator now based in New York City, Kicińska was joined on stage by Kuba Cichocki, piano and Will Slater, bass. The concert featured tracks from her debut album "The Maze”—released this past October—which draws inspiration from Polish and Latin American folk music, soul and Western classical music, while remaining rooted in jazz. The winner of many competitions, Kicińska has performed with such musicians as Gene Jackson, Gabriel Guerrero as well as Polish legends Danuta Blazejczyk and Jerzy 'Dudus' Matuszkiewicz.
MŁODA POLSKA CELEBRATED IN GREECE
On January 23, 2015, the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki hosted a concert of music by Polish composers performed by the Thessaloniki State Symphony Orchestra, one of the two most important orchestras in Greece. The choice of repertoire was not incidental. Conducted by Dariusz Mikulski, the program of the concert included two works of the “Młoda Polska” [Young Poland] Movement composers: Bianca da Molena Op. 6 by Mieczysław Karłowicz and Violin Concerto No. 2 Op. 61 by Karol Szymanowski with Dimitris Karakantas as a soloist, as well as Concerto for Orchestra by Witold Lutosławski.
Professor Andrzej Koszewski died in Poznań on February 17. He was 92. A renowned composer of choral music and a musicologist, he was also a professor of composition at the Poznań Music Academy, whose students included Krzesimir Dębski and Lidia Zielińska.
Prof. Koszewski received an honorary doctorate from the Poznań Music Academy in 2013 in recognition of his long tenure there, which began in 1957. Prof. Koszewski served as Dean of the Vocal Studies Department and later as Head of the Composition and Music Theory Studies at the Poznań Music Academy. The Polish Government recognized Prof. Koszewski with the Commander’s Cross of Independent Poland and a Golden Gloria Artis medal for his services to Polish culture. The requiem mass for Prof. Koszewski was said on February 24 and was followed by a burial ceremony at the Junikowo Cemetery later that day.
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Sources of information: Polish Cultural Institute (NY & UK), Adam Mickiewicz Institute,
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