• ‘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”

• New CD Appreciation (Krauze/Bôłt)

Krauze-1The Polish independent CD label, Bôłt Records, is one of the most inventive both inside and outside Poland.  Not only has it reissued recordings of key experimental works from the 1960s and 1970s but it has also given recording opportunities to current composers and performers to revisit such pieces.  One of the composers on whom Bôłt has focused is Zygmunt Krauze, five years younger than Penderecki and Górecki and just as distinctive a figure.  This CD, for which I wrote a short appreciation of Krauze’s music, presents archive recordings of four works from 1975-80, a significant period in Polish musical and cultural life.

Here’s the link to my appreciation for this new Krauze CDor you can scroll the CD NOTES tab above.

• BBC R3 ‘Polska!’: 19 November 1993

Screen Shot 2013-11-18 at 20.26.52Twenty years ago today I was in Warsaw preparing to present my first ever live concert, and I could hardly have chosen a more publicised event.  I was at Studio S1 at Polish Radio, broadcasting to BBC Radio 3 for the opening concert of Polska!, the most extensive celebration of any nation’s culture mounted by a single BBC channel.  For 18 days, from 19 November to 6 December 1993, Radio 3 broadcast over 120 separate programmes involving producers, writers, performers and broadcasters not only from the musical world but many others too: poetry, fiction, drama, art, cabaret, history, cuisine, politics.

In late 1992, I was working as Head of Music at Radio 3.  I was wondering how the station might celebrate the 60th birthdays, at the end of the following year, of Krzysztof Penderecki (23 November) and Henryk Mikołaj Górecki (6 December) as well as mark the 80th birthday of Witold Lutosławski at the start of the 1993.  (Little did we know that Lutosławski had already been diagnosed with cancer as Polska! began and that he would die in February 1994.)  I went to discuss the idea of a festival with the Controller of Radio 3, Nicholas Kenyon, and we quickly realised that we had the resources to organise something really special, involving not only all the BBC orchestras and the BBC Singers but the other departments which contributed to the rich variety of Radio 3’s programming.  If I remember correctly, it was Nicholas Kenyon who came up with the title and he was unreservedly enthusiastic and encouraging.  And so Polska! was born.

Polska!

Over the next 18 days, I will be posting occasionally about Polska!, its live and recorded music repertoire, its non-musical programmes, the press coverage in the UK and in Poland, and including as many direct images of press reviews etc. as possible.

Although I had left the channel at the end of June 1993, I remained deeply involved in the planning and programming of Polska! and was slated to do some of the presentation, both in Poland and the UK.  Hence my ‘continuity’ presence in Warsaw on 19 November.  A flavour of the musical breadth of the festival may be gathered from that evening’s five-hour opener, ‘Poland Now’ (a second blockbuster came towards the end of the festival).

Homma 1993

The opening evening’s main feature was the live broadcast from Polish Radio 2.  The first half was devoted to chamber music (I was intent on including the then-neglected Zarębski Piano Quintet, which today has a deservedly higher profile), while the second consisted of contemporary vocal repertoire (including Paweł Szymański’s recent Miserere, a commission from Polish Radio).

Polska! Programme 19.11.93

In the interval, for ‘A Musician’s Lot’, I talked with Szymański and two other Polish composers – Rafał Augustyn and Zygmunt Krauze –  as well as to the pianist Paweł Kowalski, to Monika Strugała, one of the organisers of the choral festival Wratislavia Cantans, to Elżbieta Szczepańska, Head of Promotion at the music publisher PWM, and to Andrzej Rakowski, a professor at the Chopin Academy of Music in Warsaw and the author of a recent report on music education in Poland.

In the 45′ profile of Polish political life – still a compelling issue four years after the ‘Round Table’ conference of 1989 had restored a level of democracy to the country – Piotr Kowalczuk was joined by Krzysztof Bobiński (Financial Times), the writer and lawyer Wiktor Osiatyński and Andrzej Wróblewski (Polityka), among others.

A second recent Polish Radio commission followed – Stanisław Krupowicz’s Fin-de-siècle, introduced by the composer and performed by WOSPR (Polish Radio Great SO), conducted by Takao Ukigaya.  For ‘A Composer’s Lot’, I was joined again by Augustyn, Krauze and Szymański, by three other composers, Krupowicz, Hanna Kulenty and Marta Ptaszyńska, and by Grzegorz Michalski from Polish Radio 2 and Elżbieta Szczepańska from PWM.

We were then able to draw on that year’s ‘Warsaw Autumn’ festival when Lutosławski had conducted a complete programme of his own music with the Warsaw PO (it turned out to be his last appearance on the podium in Poland). He talked with me about the Fourth Symphony to introduce the broadcast.  Palester’s Adagio for Strings (1954) was performed by Sinfonia Varsovia under Jan Krenz.

The evening had begun with a specially recorded performance by Piers Lane of Chopin’s Etudes op.10 (virtually all of Chopin’s music was played during Polska! and Lane bookended the festival on 6 December with the Etudes op.25).  It ended with Szymanowski’s Myths and, like every subsequent evening of the festival, the last notes were left to one or more of Szymanowski’s mazurkas.

• Recollecting Górecki

While I was in Warsaw last week, a new book was launched that goes beyond traditional reminiscences of recently departed artists.  It is almost three years since Henryk Mikołaj Górecki died – he would, like Penderecki, have been 80 this year and no doubt there would have been wider celebrations of his music had he still been alive.  The 2013 ‘Warsaw Autumn’, in a fit of commemoration, put on three concerts devoted to Lutosławski (Piano Concerto with Krystian Zimerman, Third Symphony), Penderecki (St Luke Passion) and Górecki (the three string quartets).  This new volume on Górecki, however, is no mere commemoration.  The contributors to Górecki. Portret w Pamięci (Górecki. Portrait in Memory) – all 42 of them, many of whom knew him extremely well and over many years – bring Górecki’s vivid, complex and sometimes contradictory personality back to life.  Taken together, they don’t miss you and hit the wall, as the saying goes.  There is a tinge of regret at the absence of his closest contemporaries, the composers Zbigniew Bujarski, Wojciech Kilar and Penderecki, and of the dedicatee and conductor of the premiere of Scontri, Jan Krenz.  But the collection is nevertheless rich in telling detail.

The book’s concept and execution were down to my friend Beata Bolesławska-Lewandowska.  She asks intelligent and searching questions and elicits fascinating responses, accessible to a wide range of readers.  Unfortunately, it is only in Polish, so readers and contributors who do not know the language have little chance of enjoying the memories therein.  An English version surely beckons.

Homma 1993 2

The contributions are grouped according to the interviewees’ occupations or relationship with the composer, each section printed on different coloured paper, and each interview prefaced by a photograph of the interviewee, sometimes with Górecki.  Here’s a list of the contributors and a byline on each.

Najbliżsi (Nearest): Jadwiga Górecka (widow), Mikołaj Górecki (son, composer), Anna Górecka (daughter, pianist)
• Uczniowie (Students): Eugeniusz Knapik (composer, pianist, teacher), Rafał Augustyn (composer, critic, Polish philologist), Małgorzata Hussar (composer, teacher)
Okiem muzykologa (In the eyes of the musicologist): Leon Markiewicz (Katowice Music Academy), Mieczysław Tomaszewski (former director of PWM, Kraków Music Academy), Teresa Malecka (Kraków Music Academy), Krzysztof Droba (Kraków Music Academy), Adrian Thomas (quite why I’m here rather than in group six I’m not sure!), Grzegorz Michalski (author, broadcaster, President of the Witold Lutosławski Society)
Kompozytorzy i wykonawcy (Composers and performers): Włodzimierz Kotoński (composer, teacher), Zygmunt Krauze (composer, pianist), Elżbieta Chojnacka (harpsichordist), Antoni Wit (conductor), Zofia Kilanowicz (soprano), Marek Moś (conductor, former leader of the Silesian String Quartet), Father Kazimierz Szymonik (priest, conductor)
• Dania (Denmark): Louise Lerche-Lerchenborg (commissioner of Lerchenmusik), Rosalind Bevan (pianist), Teresa Waśkowska (critic)
• Wielka Brytania (Great Britain): David Atherton (conductor), Paul Crossley (pianist), Janis Susskind (publisher, Boosey & Hawkes)
Stany Zjednoczone (United States): David Zinman (conductor), David Harrington (leader, Kronos Quartet), John Sherba (second violin, Kronos Quartet), Carol Wincenc (flautist)
• Bielsko-Biała (town south of Katowice where Górecki hosted a short festival each October; it still flourishes): Władysław Szczotka (Director, Bielsko-Biała Cultural Centre), Ewa Stojek-Lupin (pianist, portrait painter), Jacek Krywult (politician, President of Bielsko-Biała)
Promotorzy, organizatorzy (Promoters, organisers): Andrzej Kosowski (Director of Institute for Music and Dance, former director of PWM), Joanna Wnuk-Nazarowa (MD of NOSPR – National Symphony Orchestra of Polish Radio, Katowice), Ewa B. Michalska (music manager), Andrzej Wendland (Artistic Director, Tansman Festival, Łódź)
Interpretacje (Interpretations): Andrzej Chłopecki (✝ musicologist, broadcaster, critic), Krzysztof Zanussi (film director), Szymon Bywalec (conductor), Malgorzata and Marcin Gmys (musicologists), Mirosław Jacek Błaszczyk (conductor), Violetta Rotter-Kozera (TV documentary director)

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