Inaugural Concert of the celebratory cycle for the Vasa Year - Commemoration of the Golden Age of Polish Music - Royal Castle, Warsaw, 3 February 2019

The Baroque movement in Poland began with the Vasa dynasty, ostentatious patrons of painting and music. Assuming the reader's familiarity with the election of Kings in Polish history, there were three Vasa kings: Zygmunt III (1587-1632), Władisław IV (1632-48) and Jan Kazimierz (1648-68). King Zygmunt III despite his chaotic reign, loved large-scale polychoral music. There seems to be a great deal we still do not know about the Polish Baroque composer  Marcin Mielczewski (d. 1651) and musicologists hope to discover more. In this inaugural concert of the coming Vasa concert cycle in 2019, I was to discover surprising and deeply satisfying musical riches.
Mielczewski (whose sacred music is featured in tonight's concert) almost certainly took part in musical performances under Asprillio Pacelli and Giovanni Francesco Anerio, as well as studying with Franciszek Lilius, a composer of Italian descent. Warsaw was the center of creative activity. Mikołaj Zieleński and Barthołomiej Pęki…

The Pocket Paderewski : The Beguiling Life of the Australian Concert Pianist Edward Cahill

In light of the enthusiasm for the new fashion exhibition Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams which opened at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London on 2 February 2019, I thought I might mention my recently published biography of the concert pianist and Chopin 'specialist' Edward Cahill (1875-1975). Also relevant is the recently published and highly popular and entertaining The Quest for Queen Mary by James Pope-Hennessy (Hugo Vickers ed.)  Hodder London 2018. Both the exhibition and the book deal with the very same society in which my great uncle moved as a celebrity. As Pope-Hennessy  points out, a largely forgotten generation today.

Apart from time spent giving the first recitals of Chopin in 1919 to Maharajahs in India and the King of Siam, he gave recitals in London, Paris and the French Riviera during its golden age. Under the patronage of his supporter Dame Nellie Melba, for a long period of his life he befriended and entertained members of this same dazzling English…

Yu Kosuge / Paul Goodwin - National Philharmonic Orchestra, Warsaw - 25 January 2019

Snow was falling in Warsaw, the night punishingly cold. The ground was covered in ice and slush thoughtlessly thrown up from the tarmac by black Mercedes speeding past. How pleasant to arrive for a concert with time in hand and able to look forward to a warming cup of green tea and the best Napoleonka in the world. This traditional indulgence of mine consists of a small square of deliciously thick Polish vanilla custard cream sandwiched between two layers of  puff pastry and dusted with icing sugar. Also known as a kremówka, the combination with green tea is a perfect relaxed emotional preparation for a winter concert in the warm Philharmonic concert hall. I have given in to this sensual, indulgent ritual for years.

The concert was an attractive programme of classical symphonies and a Mozart piano concerto with the the gifted and acclaimed young Japanese pianist Yu Kosuge. She has played with all the major Japanese orchestras and worked with leading European orchestras under great cond…

Divine Intervention – Leipzig and the Ring of Bach Cantatas, 8 – 10 June 2018


Ryszard Peryt (1947-2019) - A fond recollection of an immense opera directorial talent

The Director of the Polish Royal Opera, Ryszard Peryt (1985 - 2005), has died. For twenty years  he was the Director of the Warsaw Chamber Opera.  His magnum opus was the production of all the stage works of Mozart. In 1991 twenty-five of these works were created to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the composer's death, at the time a unique European project. Annual Mozart festivals and cycles followed. Not only operas by Mozart but alsoBaroque operas by Peri, Caccini and Landi through an unforgettable Monteverdi cycle, a Handel festival and rarely performed work by John Blow, Henry Purcell and numerous others. His international directorial reputation was outstanding.

Here was a truly Renaissance man in many outstanding disciplines - director, actor, doctor and professor of theatre arts, lecturer at the Theatre Academy of Warsaw. He had been presented with many prestigious Polish cultural awards including the Polonia Restituta in 2008 and Zlota Gloria Artis in 2011 and in 2018 a…