Showing posts from March, 2010

KRAJ z KSIĘŻYCA. Podróże do serca Polski

KRAJ z KSIĘŻYCA. Podróże do serca PolskiWydawnictwo Czarne, Warszawa 2010r. ISBN: 978-83-7536-186-5 Now Available from the author:    The English edition is called A Country in the Moon : Travels in Search of the Heart of Poland (Granta Books, London 2009) ISBN: 978 1 84708 104 9   (Description in English) This painting on the cover of the Polish Edition above is by the Great War Polish cavalry officer and amateur artist Tomasz Kucharski. This detail from the full painting was used for the cover design. The officers are dancing a mazur. I found his wonderfully naive art forgotten in a gallery at the Teutonic Knights castle of Gniew on the banks of the Vistula. In the castle there was an exhibition of his amateur paintings mainly of cavalry manoeuvres by this Polish cavalry officer from the period of World War I. Tomasz Kucharski had a very distinguished military career as an cavalry

Eccentric Club Dinner 17th. February, 2010

Table setting at the Arts Club Dover Street London W1 for the Eccentric Club Dinner on Wednesday 17th February, 2010 in the presence of HRH The Duke of Edinburgh KG KT A sublime moment of political incorrectness. Gentlemen from the left: HRH Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, Christian Furr, at 28 the youngest artist ever to have painted the Queen, Ian Clarke, one of the finest Chancery barristers, the author Michael Moran laughing in his usual immoderate manner, Jean Francois Dor, a tireless socialite and Chairman or Vice-Chairman of a number of distinguished London Clubs. As you know I was recently elected as a full member to the resuscitated Eccentric Club originally established in 1781 to promote 'The feast of reason and the flow of soul' in an atmosphere of good fellowship. Any discussion of religion, politics or business is frowned upon. What an excellent idea! A small group of us had dinner with HRH Prince Philip (the club's patron) on Fe

The Chopin Brand or the Chopin Soul

The Old Library, Warsaw University  venue for  Third International Congress CHOPIN 1810-2010 Ideas - Interpretations - Influence [This article also appears in the 84 page Chopin 2010 UK Events Guide] The music of Fryderyk Chopin has always been a haven of spiritual refuge to the Polish nation under oppression be it Tsarist Russia, Nazi Germany, the Soviets or the period of communist hegemony. Yet the accession of Poland to the European Union was curiously low key that cold May night in 2004, at least in the capital Warsaw. Unbridled festivity was not present in an atmosphere filled with long speeches and the ‘Heroic’ polonaise performed by Rafał Blechacz  on a plinth in Piłsudski Square. [1]    The collective memory and final victory of the country over oppression was expressed by a chorus of ghosts without number in Chopin’s passionate and melancholic vision. What then is the emotional significance of Chopin for contemporary Poland? All ages interpret

Fryderyk Chopin's 200th Birthday

The birthday of Chopin is contested between February 22nd and March 1st. In a singularly pragmatic manner the Poles have been celebrating his birthday with an entire week of concerts for the pianists and the Third International Chopin Congress for the scholars. This climaxed with the opening of the new Italian-designed, state-of-the-art, interactive, multi-media Chopin Museum in Warsaw. Rafal Blechacz, winner of the 2005 Chopin Competition, began the performance series with a fine account of the F minor concerto. He has matured but the increased forcefulness and decrease in subtlety of his playing gave me pause for thought. I pass over in silence Antoni Wit's conducting of the patchy under-rehearsed Warsaw Filharmonia through this entire series. Ivor Pogorelic followed the next evening but gave a willfully perverse rendering of the same work. His sense of musical form and architecture has been shattered into meaningless unconnected fragments. His story is one of tragic