• Panufnik, Penderecki, Zubel

To add to forthcoming Polish music events in the UK, there are two celebrations this month, in Glasgow and Manchester.  Next Saturday and Sunday (20-21 June), ‘Panufnik. A Celebration’ takes place at City Halls, Glasgow, with three concerts devoted almost entirely to his music.  A few days later (23-26 June), the RNCM in Manchester hosts ‘Seven Gates: The Music of Poland Explored’. Penderecki will conduct the first UK performance (!) of his Seven Gates of Jerusalem, only 18 years after it was premiered; his music and that of the much younger Agata Zubel (b.1978) take the foreground.  Lutosławski features at both events in a supporting role, with Górecki and Szymanowski also included in Manchester.  The Manchester repertoire has some little-known Penderecki works embedded in it, and of the three films Andrzej Wajda’s feature on Katyń and Wiktor Skrzynecki’s documentary about the ‘Warsaw Autumn’ will be well worth seeing.  For repertoire details, see below.

While I am delighted that these composers are being played and heard, I can’t help feeling that the repertoires of both events reinforce the impression in the UK that Polish music still consists of composers (Zubel excepted) who are either dead or reaching their creative dotage.  The one exception in this country, largely confined to sacred music, is Paweł Łukaszewski (b.1968), who has made a strong impact in choral circles here and was featured last year at the Presteigne Festival, which also promoted another Polish composer in his 40s but little-known in the UK, Maciej Zieliński (b.1971).  Zubel’s music is especially welcome this year in this context, and anyone wanting to hear her recent music, but who can’t get to Manchester, is recommended to seek out her CD ‘Not I’ on the Kairos label.

In case you missed it, Hyperion released a CD earlier this year of string quartets by Paweł Szymański (b.1954) and Paweł Mykietyn (b.1971), both of whom are well-established and no longer up-and-coming in Poland yet are virtually unknown here, despite Szymański having had some exposure with the London Sinfonietta some 25 years ago.  I am still waiting for high-profile performances of composers now in their 30s, like Szymański was when the BBC commissioned Partita IV for premiere at the Sonorities Festival in Belfast in 1987.  What about – and this is to name just a few composers in addition to Zubel, some deeply involved in multi-media work, who are headline figures in Poland and have international profiles elsewhere – Wojtek Blecharz (b.1981), Andrzej Kwieciński (b.1984), Dariusz Przybylski (b.1984), Marcin Stańczyk (b.1977) or Jagoda Szmytka (b.1982)?  There are dozens more (by focusing on those born in the late 1970s and early 1980s, I am not forgetting that there are older – even younger – composers equally worthy of investigation!).

…….

Panufnik.  A Celebration
City Halls, Glasgow, 20-21 June 2015

BBC Scottish SO, conducted by Łukasz Borowicz, Alexander Sitkovetsky, Ewa Kupiec

Panufnik: Divertimento, after Janiewicz (1947), Lullaby (1947), Sinfonia rustica (1948), Polonia (1959), Piano Concerto (1961/several times revised), Sinfonia sacra (1963), Violin Concerto (1971), Symphony 10 (1988), unidentified piano music
Lutosławski: unidentified piano music

…….

Seven Gates: The Music of Poland Explored
RNCM, Manchester, 23-26 June 2015

RNCM New Ensemble, Dominic Degavino, RNCM SO, Chamber Choir and Chorus, Piero Lombardi Eglesias, Maciej Tworek, Krzysztof Penderecki (other soloists and ensembles tba)

Penderecki: Violin Sonata no.1 (1953), Three Miniatures for clarinet and piano (1956), Brigade of Death (tape, 1963), Agnus Dei (1981, arranged for eight cellos), Cadenza for solo viola (1984), Entrata (1994), Symphony no.7 ‘Seven Gates of Jerusalem’ (1996), String Quartet no.3 (2008),
Górecki: Harpsichord Concerto (1980)
Lutosławski: Dance Preludes (1954), Chain 1 (1983), Piano Concerto (1988)
Szymanowski: Songs of a Fairytale Princess (1915), Masques (1916)
Zubel: Suite for percussion trio (2011), Streets of a Human City (2011), Shades of Ice (2011)

Films:
• Katyń (Andrzej Wajda, 2007)
• Górecki: The Symphony of Sorrowful Songs (Tony Palmer, 1993, not 2008 as given in the brochure)
• 50 years of [the] Warsaw Autumn (Wiktor Skrzynecki, 2007)

• 6th Festival of Premieres, Katowice

Last November, the 21st to be exact, I visited the new and magnificent home in Katowice of NOSPR, the Polish Radio National Symphony Orchestra.  The occasion was a performance of Shostakovich’s Fifth Symphony under the baton of the 91-year-old Stanisław Skrowaczewski.

1510969_530640500404789_5062398667736756849_nIt was a searing account, made all the more special because that very morning I had come across a programme from 1949 when Skrowaczewski had conducted the same work with the other Katowice orchestra, the Silesian Philharmonic.  65 years on, and still going strong.

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I hope that in 2080 someone will come across the programme of NOSPR’s 6th Festiwal Prawykonań (Festival of Premieres, 17-19 April 2015) and make a similar connection with a performer or composer being featured in this edition.  The big change is that all the concerts will take place in the orchestra’s new home, barely ten minutes’ walk from Henryk Mikołaj Gorecki’s home.  The siedziba, as it’s called in Polish, not only includes the main symphony hall but the equally fine acoustics of the chamber hall.

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Back in 2013, I listed the repertoire of the 5th Festival.  This year, such is the diversity and extent of Polish composition that 75% of the names are different.  This biennial event is a great initiative, arguably the most important showcase for new Polish concert music.  It demonstrates the cultural significance of publicly-funded bodies like radio orchestras (Radio France take note).  I do not know the schedule of live or deferred broadcasts planned by Polish Radio Dwójka (PR2).

6-festiwal-prawykonanThe ensembles featured include Camerata Silesia, conducted by Anna Szostak, Orchestra Muzyki Nowej (New Music Orchestra), conducted by Szymon Bywalec, NOSPR conducted by Alexander Humala, Szymon Bywalec and José Maria Florêncio, Kwartludium, Kwartet Śląski (Silesian Quartet) and the AUKSO Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Marek Moś.

Here’s this year’s repertoire, in alphabetical order by composer:

** World premiere   * Polish premiere
• Rafał Augustyn: String Quartet no.3 ‘Monadologia’**
• Zbigniew Bagiński: String Quartet no.5**
• Zbigniew BargielskiHierofania 2 for orchestra**
• Marcin BłażewiczVisions for soprano, violin and piano**
• Marcin Bortnowskiku dźwiękom nocy for string quartet and accordion**
• Stanisław BromboszczAir for instrumental ensemble and electronic media**
• Roman Czura: Piano Concerto ‘Kraftfelder’**
• Jacek DomagałaElegia for voice and ensemble**
• Zofia DowgiałłoKompozycja z ruchomym tłem for orchestra**
• Cezary DuchnowskiSymfonia zbiorów for instrumental groups and electronics**
• Grzegorz DuchnowskiW malinowym chruśniaku for soprano and piano**
• Jan DuszyńskiSfex for accordion and cello**
• Mikołaj GóreckiElegia for cello and string orchestra**
• Marek GruckaRetaeh for piano, strings and percussion**
• Maciej Jabłoński: Symphony no.6 ‘Oneirophrenia’ for orchestra, electronics and multimedia**
• Zaid Jabri (Syrian composer living in Kraków): Beati Pacifici for soprano and piano*
• Justyna Kowalska-Łasoń która wszystko tworzy, wszystko ochrania for mixed choir of soloists, chamber orchestra and live electronics**
• Hanna Kulenty: Trumpet Concerto no.3**
• Sławomir Kupczak: white over red for mixed choir**
• Andrzej Kwiecińskierschallen for double bass and orchestra**
• Krzysztof MeyerMuzyka świata i półcienia for orchestra*
• Piotr Mossgo where never before for choir and instrumental ensemble*
PRASQUAL (aka Tomasz Prasqual): Muqarnyas for accordion and two orchestras in six spatial groups**
• Zbigniew SłowikThe Motor Poem (Quo vadis homine) for orchestra**
• Joanna Szymała: Clarinet Quintet**
• Sławomir Wojciechowski…play them back for ansambl and electronics**
• Emil Bernard WojtackiZefiro torna for soprano and orchestra**
• Artur ZagajewskiMechanofaktura**

• ‘Warsaw Autumn’ Chronicle 2014

Screen Shot 2015-02-26 at 15.46.52The days are long gone when the ‘Warsaw Autumn’ Sound Chronicle contained only Polish repertoire.  The seven CDs of recordings from last year’s 57th festival have just been delivered by my postie and I can’t wait to delve into them, not least because of their mix of Polish and non-Polish pieces.  The boxed set is not available commercially but is made available to libraries, broadcasters and researchers on request to the Polish Music Information Centre.

Among the 2014 highlights are a blistering account of Serocki’s Pianophonie, intriguing sounds from Blecharz (although the work’s visual impact is missing), and a group of young composers from Kraków.  There are a few Polish absences from the festival programme, such as Hanna Kulenty’s Van… for piano four hands (2014)** and Andrzej Kwieciński’s Concerto. Re maggiore for harpsichord and orchestra (new version, 2013)**.  Here is the list of contents (Polish repertoire in bold).

CD1
Kazimierz Serocki: Pianophonie for piano, orchestra and electronic sound transformation (1978)  28’38”  with new computerised sound synthesis
• Jonathan Harvey: Body Mandala  14’33”
Marcin Stańczyk: Sighs for chamber orchestra (2008/2010-12)*  15’05”
• Simon Steen-Andersen: Ouvertures  17’06”

CD2
Jakub Sarwas:  Crépuscule du soir mystique for soprano and ensemble (2000-14)**  12’49”
Wojtek Blecharz: [one][year][later] for countertenor, flute, erhu, pipa, guzheng, yang qin and percussion (2014)**  23’30”
• Zygmunt Krauze: Rivière souterraine 2 for orchestra and electronics (2013)  19’09”
• Tansy Davies: Spiral House  22’49”

CD3
• Artur Zagajewski: brut for cello and ensemble (2014)  14’23”
• Philippe Leroux: Le cri de la pierre  8’44”
• Benjamin de la Fuente: Frôle  14’51”
• Ernesto Molinari & Theo Nabicht: 29,4 : 174,61  7’54”
• Leopold Hurt: Gatter  15’51”
• Raphaël Cendo: Action Painting  14’09”

CD4
• Wenchen Qin: Listen to the Valleys  11’31”
• Wenjing Guo: Late Spring  5’37”
• Guohui Ye: 964•Heterophony  9’49”
• Tato Taborda: Estratos  18’44”
• Canela Palacios: La permanencia  10’46”
• Cergio Prudencio: Cantos ofertorios  21’03”

CD5
• Mr Pebblestone in the World of Sounds**  22’05”  part of ‘Little Warsaw Autumn’: 12 minatures on earth, water, fire and air by twelve composers from the Kraków Academy of Music: Natalia Wojnakowska, Szymon Stanisław Strzelec, Renāte Stivriņa, Błażej Wincenty Kozłowski, Nadim Husni, Piotr Peszat, Piotr Roemer, Monika Szpyrka, Franciszek Araszkiewicz, Paulina Łuciuk, Martyna Kosecka and Kamil Kruk
• Cezary Duchnowski: Parallels for piano, MIDI keyboard, percussion and cello (2014)**  9’11”
• Wojciech Zimowit Zych: Roundflow/Throughflow/Outflow for eight spatially amplified cellos (2014)**  9’16”
• Szymon Stanisław Strzelec: The Hâsbeiya Fountain for spatially arranged ensemble (2012-13)  11’19”
Piotr Roemer: Re-Sublimations for strings and percussion (2012)  11’04”
Piotr Peszat: Interiør in Strandgarde for orchestra (2014)*  9’06”
Kamil Kruk: Parhelion for orchestra (2014)  3’52”

CD6
• Yuval Avital: REKA  72’23”

CD7
• Ewa Fabiańska-Jelińska: Allegro ma non troppo for vocal ensemble (2014)  3’51”
• Artur Żuchowski: Onion for a cappella choir (2014)  2’24”
• Kalina Świątnicka: Il rumore del silenzio for tape (2014)  7’20”
• Michał Dobrzyński: Elegy no.2. A Dialogue? for violin and live electronics (2007)  4’34”
• Tymoteusz Witczak: Signal/Noise for unspecified ensemble (graphic score, 2014)  4’05”
• Nikolet Burzyńska: Solarisss for tape (2014)  4’30”
• Marcin Piotr Łopacki: Folio no.2 for any solo string instrument (graphic score, 2006)  3’56”
• Andrzej Karałow: Shipyard Chant for bass clarinet and tape (2014)  3’53”
• Jarosław Drozd: X=Y for unspecified ensemble (graphic score, 2014)  6’30”

• MoMA on Polish Music

moma-logo-post-new1Yet another initiative that I missed earlier this year is a series of essays and other items emanating from New York’s Museum of Modern Art.  I came across MoMA’s post – notes on modern and contemporary art around the globe while writing my preceding post about the late Bohdan Mazurek.  On 19 December 2013 MoMA published a theme called Polish Radio Experimental Studio: A Close Look, in which Mazurek features.

This really is a superb English-language introduction to one of the ground-breaking initiatives in Western and Eastern European music in the 1950s.  PRES was the brainchild of Józef Patkowski. It was a most unlikely development in communist Poland and one that had a profound impact on the sound of Polish music.  Many composers, including Penderecki, Kotoński, Schäffer and Dobrowolski, made use of its expertise (principally Bohdan Mazurek and Eugeniusz Rudnik), and soon non-Polish composers also flocked to use its facilities.

The MoMA theme includes the following:

Essays

• Daniel Muzyczuk, ‘The Future Sound of Warsaw: Introduction to PRES
• David Crowley, ‘Spatial Music: Design and the Polish Radio Experimental Studio
• Michał Libera: Alchemist Cabinet of the Polish Radio Experimental Studio: Music Scores of and for Experiments

Interview

• Daniel Muzyczuk, ‘How much Rudnik is in Penderecki, and how much Rudnik is in Nordheim?  Interview with Eugeniusz Rudnik

Scores

• PRES Music Scores 1959-1972
[browsable scores originally published by PWM]
• Kotoński Music for One Cymbal Stroke (1959)*
• Dobrowolski Music for Magnetic Tape (1963)*
• Schaeffer Symphony – Electronic Music (1964)*
• Dobrowolski Music for Magnetic Tape and Oboe Solo (1965)
• Dobrowolski Music for Strings, Two Groups of Wind Instruments and Two Loudspeakers (1966)
• Kotoński Aela. Electronic Music (1970)*
• Dobrowolski Music for Magnetic Tape and Piano Solo (1972)*

No sound files are included on the MoMA site, but there is a fascinating double CD (2013) from Bôłt Records that brings together the original realisations of the five scores marked * above, plus modern realisations of the same pieces.  The two CDs are called PRES Scores and also include then-and-now versions of Penderecki’s Psalmus (1961).

• Bohdan Mazurek (1937-2014)

kronika_3_-_mazurekThe Polish composer and sound engineer Bohdan Mazurek – a key figure in the development of electronic music in Poland – has died at the age of 76.  Alongside Eugeniusz Rudnik, Mazurek helped to develop the Polish Radio Experimental Studio after its foundation in 1957 by Józef Patkowski into a central force in Polish music in the 1960s and 70s.  He assisted many composers in realising their electronic music but was also a composer, in his own right, of both electronic and film music.  His music won prizes in several competitions (Dartmouth, Bourges) and he taught not only at the Warsaw Music Academy but at several institutions in the USA.

I knew Bohdan Mazurek early on in my involvement in Polish music.  He was a gentle giant, modest and with a selfless devotion to his metier.  He was a thoroughly decent and lovely man and I recall spending many good-spirited hours in his company.  He helped me hugely as I tried to find my way in the rich panorama of Polish music.  His own music went largely undervalued, with very little percolating abroad.  Bozzetti was, however, included in the 1970 boxed LP set ‘Electronic Panorama’ (Philips 6740 001), which profiled new electronic compositions from Paris, Tokyo, Utrecht and Warsaw.

br_es02Fortunately, in 2010  the Warsaw-based independent label Bôłt Records, in partnership with Polish Radio and Foundation 4.99, issued a double CD of Mazurek’s music, Sentinel Hypothesis’.  It includes an excellent essay and notes by Bolesław Błaszczyk. The twelve works on these discs are: Bozzetti (1967), Epitaph for Jan Palach (1969), Sinfonia Rustica (1970), Canti (1973), Ballade (1976), Children’s Dreams (1976), Daisy Story (1977-79), Six Electronic Preludes (1981), From the Notebook (1983), Letter to Friends (1986), Pennsylvania Dream (1987), Reverie (1989).

An appreciation just published (in Polish) at culture.pl includes YouTube links for Bozzetti (1967) and Canti (1973).

OBITUARY

• Polish commissions for 2013-14

In an age when transparency in government agencies is increasingly demanded, I wonder how many British or other national arts organisations can rival the almost brutal way in which commission applications by Polish composers become available as publicly as this.  In its latest newsletter, issued today, the Institute of Music and Dance in Warsaw announced a summary of the latest round of music commissions, with a link to the full list published by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage.  All the details are there, whether or not a composer or organisation has been successful.  Top of the list came a proposal from Baltic Opera for a new opera Olimpia by Zygmunt Krauze.

Polish commissions 2013-14, top 5

Each application was awarded a score (first column), the sponsoring organisation named, the nature of the commission given (with a + sign linking to a breakdown of the points given in column 1 into three components: organisational – 10%, merit – 60%, strategic – 30%).  Successful applications had to achieve a minimum total rating of 60%.  The value of the award is given in the final column (roughly 5zł = £1).  The minimum awarded was 10,000zł (c. £2000), the maximum 60,000zł (c. £12,000), depending on the nature of the project (60,000zł for an opera is absurdly low and, I trust, only part of Krauze’s total commission fee, especially when compared with 25,000zł for a string quintet).  In this year’s round, 81 of the 218 applications have been  successful and the total disbursement by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage is 2,324,950zł (approximately £465,000).  The range of activity is impressively broad, as also befits a selection panel comprising two composers, a conductor and representatives from broadcasting and higher education (Zbigniew Bagiński, Joanna Grotkowska, Eugeniusz Knapik, Wojciech Michniewski and Krzysztof Szwajgier).

• Lutosławski @sacrum+profanum, 22.09.13

sacrum_logotypecmyk_jasnetlHot on the heels of my recent posts about the re-imagining of Lutosławski’s music by Polish musicians, news has come through of a potentially more far-reaching project involving non-Polish musicians at the 2013 sacrum+profanum festival in Kraków.

On 22 September, the AUKSO orchestra, under Marek Moś, will play Lutosławski’s Musique funèbre and Preludes and Fugue.  Their by-the-book performances will then be responded to by four composers known for their electronic work: Clark (Chris Clark, UK), Emika (UK, of Czech parentage), Mira Calix (UK) and Oneohtrix Point Never (Daniel Lopatin, USA).  The event – ‘Polish Icons 2’ – starts at 18.00, at the ArcelorMittal Hala Ocynowni.  Tickets (bilety) are 79zł (c. £20) until the end of May, thereafter 99zł (c. £25).  The Polish announcement is available here (the English-language pages have not yet caught up with the Polish news release).

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