Witold Małcuzyński (1914-1977) and the Legendary Wawel Castle Chopin Recital, Kraków 1959

On Saturday evening February 16th I attended a small private radio studio launch of the archive recordings of the online facility Radio Chopin.,Radio-Chopin
This is the first recording in their ambitious and much to be welcomed projected series of historic recordings from their archive. It was of the legendary 1959 Wawel Castle  Kraków recital by the great Polish pianist Witold Małcuzyński (1914-1977). I have always found his playing somewhat uneven in quality and inspiration (if one has the temerity to offer such an opinion at this high artistic level). 

He was possibly the most famous  pupil of Ignacy Jan Paderewski and the highly influential pianist, pedagogue and musicologist Józef Turczyński (1884-1953). Originally intending to be a lawyer, he won the third prize in the Third International Chopin Competition in Warsaw in 1937. I often visit his grave in Powązki cemetery  in Warsaw on All Saints Day where a forest of candles burn in his memory. He was…

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…