Showing posts from 2012

Grigory Sokolov live in Warsaw 27 October 1992 - A glorious memory revived by Polskie Radio Dwojka

This afternoon I was busy writing as usual researching the life of my  great-uncle the brilliant pianist Edward Cahill. I was exploring his friendship in Switzerland after WWII with the great German conductor Wilhelm Furtwängler. They met whilst having cell regeneration therapy in October 1945 at Dr. Niehans' Clinque La Prairie at Clarens on the shores of Lac Leman (Lake Geneva). I was reading a written apologia given personally to Cahill wherein Furtwängler justifies and explains his notorious decision to remain in Germany conducting concerts under the Nazis. I was listening to his  April 1953 Berlin recording of Beethoven's Symphony No.7 in A major with the Vienna Philharmonic.
A green glow and I noticed the radio tuner was on as I had been listening to the wonderful Radio Dwojka earlier in the morning. I decided to switch it off by remote controland pushed the 'Tuner' button which unexpectedly switched off the Beethoven and reconnected me to the radio.
There was a pi…

Paderewski Piano Competition, Bydgoszcz, Poland 3 - 17 November 2013

If you have strayed onto this page in error details for the 2013 competition are at:

Click on photographs to enlarge - a far superior image results

I have neglected this blog recently simply because of the pressure of finishing the biography of my great-uncle the Australian pianist Edward Cahill which is still ongoing after two and a half years of solid work. The reason it is taking so long and is such an arduous task is because it is being written entirely from primary source material - unsorted letters, clippings, photographs, private recordings, journals and  essays inherited by me in a huge cabin trunk. I have reached the year 1947. He died at Monaco in 1975 so I have yet to cover his courageous period in apartheid South Africa (1950-1961) and his declining years in Monaco.
I was invited this weekend (Polish Independence Day November 11th) to Bydgoszcz (Bromberg) in Poland for a concert to celebrate the 1…

The South Pacific comes to Warsaw

Click on photographs to enlarge - far superior

I have often thought I could write another book simply exploring the exotic correspondence I have received over the last few years concerning my book on the island provinces of Papua New Guinea called  Beyond the Coral Sea : Travels in the Old Empires of the South-West Pacific.  I had a number of rather primitive hand-written letters from a lady who had been possessed by 'a bird of prey' - a spirit possession facilitated by a malicious relative. She would awake each morning with deep scratches all over her body, her sleep disturbed by the fluttering of wings. Did I know a 'witch doctor' in Papua New Guinea who could arrange an exorcism by email? I referred her to sorcerer I know in Port Moresby who managed to extort some money but failed miserably to exorcise the spirit of the bird  by electronic means. Correspondence ceased shortly afterwards.  I wrote a great deal about past cannibalism in PNG in my book as …

Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea

Click on photographs to enlarge - far superior

You know there is an entire other side to my nature that never gets an airing living in Europe what with my serious writing and covering all these classical music festivals and competitions. That of the adventurer and explorer of remote destinations. How domesticated I have become!
I was looking by internet chance recently at the marvellous pictures of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visiting the Solomon Islands in Melanesia some years ago. These snaps have put me in a state of frightful and aching nostalgia for my own youth spent wandering the islands of the South Pacific. I wrote a literary travel book about the island provinces of Papua New Guinea which was well received everywhere - even by the Prince of Wales who wrote to me.

It is such a tragedy that mainstream publishers are simply not interested in publishing books on truly remote destinations inhabited by people of fascinating, exotic and instructive cultures. Being ruled by the…

2012 Leeds International Piano Competition

I have not had the time to follow this competition in detail unfortunately except on the internet which is not ideal but I have certainly watched the results with the greatest interest.
Australians should take note that the fine Australian pianist Jayson Gillham reached the Finals and is playing this evening. He was also highly regarded in the 2010 Chopin International Competition in Warsaw. He really is achieving extraordinary things.
Competition Website:

Friday 14th September

Louis Schwizgebel, Beethoven: Concerto No. 4 in G major, Op. 58

Jiayan Sun, Prokofiev: Concerto No. 2 in G minor, Op. 16


Jayson Gillham, Beethoven: Concerto No. 5 in E flat major, Op. 73

Saturday 15th September

Andrejs Osokins, Prokofiev: Concerto No. 3 in C major, Op. 26

Federico Colli, Beethoven: Concerto No. 5 in E flat major, Op. 73


Andrew Tyson, Rachmaninov: Concerto No. 3 in D minor, Op. 30

The Orchestra could not be better or the conduc…

Daniil Trifonov with Valery Gergiev and the Mariinsky Orchestra CD

It was one of those wonderful Warsaw September evenings. May, September and if we are fortunate a golden October are really the most beautiful months in Poland - balmy still and sun-kissed, autumn just brushing the trees with gold, the softest of air as the day draws to a close. Zosia had prepared  a kurki (chanterelle) dish with potatoes, onion and boczek (bacon). We sat on the terrace overlooking the lake and watched the gliders drifting in the blue above Bemowo among high feathery clouds sipping an excellent claret as dusk settled over the land. At the conclusion of the meal and the mint chocolate ice-cream, I had a black Sumatran coffee, a balloon of armagnac and a  Cuban cigar. It was only then, properly prepared and after I had lit the storm lantern, that I put on the recording above.
I am speechless with admiration. I will only say this about Trifonov - buy this recording as soon as you are able. Anyone who reads my blog knows the adoration in which I hold this pianist since I…

8th Chopin and his Europe Festival 2012 (Chopin i jego Europa Festiwal 2012) From Bach to Debussy and Kilar

Click on photographs to enlarge
Some opening remarks

Owing to family committments in Mazury I was unable to attend the first two concerts of the Festival. Perhaps the recent 'evenements'  and upheaval at the Chopin Institute also led to the relative brevity of this particular festival and the difficulty in obtaining tickets (most concerts sold out ages ago). I am afraid my coverage of the festival will be rather fitful and inadequate - however I have managed to obtain a few tickets for outstanding concerts and will cover them in the usual manner.
I am so pleased the great entrepreneur Mr. Stanislaw Leszczynski is back as Artistic Director of the Festival. Thank heavens for the radio station Dwojka (Polish Radio 2) that maintains the highest standards in academically informed commentary, uncompromising discrimination and heart-felt enthusiasm. BBC Radio 3 in London cannot compare with this station these days.
The concert venues available in Warsaw are clearly too small to accommod…