Showing posts from June, 2012

Stefan Sutkowski - An Apologia - Warsaw Chamber Opera Concert (Warszawska Opera Kameralna) to celebrate the publication of 'Mój Teatr : 1961-2011' (My Theatre 1961-2011)

Certainly Warsaw has provided me with a number of unique musical experiences and last night in the superlative ballroom of the Royal Castle was no exception. Stefan Sutkowski, the Artistic Director of the Warsaw Chamber Opera, has being going through a difficult administrative period recently and it seemed in many ways a fitting rejoinder to present his latest publication M ój Teatr: 1961-2011 to redress some unwelcome media attention.   This substantial volume has been written over a period of 50 years and contains a history of the company, articles written by him for the premi è res of opera performances, accounts of important events at the theatre and concerts, personal memoirs, festival announcements, acknowledgements and an account of members of his family going back as far as the Great War. To celebrate this publication the great early piano builder Paul McNulty managed to assemble five of his pianos from different historical periods. His Russian wife Viviana Sofronitsky

The Mazurian Lakes in Poland - my Arcadia

 A still from Roman Polanski's film Knife in the Water - Noz w Wodzie set in the Mazurian Lake District of Poland Click on photos to enlarge I have just returned from a few days recreation in the superb lake district of Poland known as Mazury . Although not a secret destination for Russians, Poles or Germans (it was the former East Prussia) it is fairly unknown among English and other European travellers. In many parts one drives though tunnels of dappled shade along deserted roads lined with arching lindens and alder. Grasslands and peatlands open out onto lakes fringed with reeds, the occasional yacht leaning into the soft wind,  smoothly  and gently progressing across the waters as if in a dream. Birdsong fills the air and storks clack their long beaks like castanets, nesting and tending their young arrogantly exposed on impossibly high electric poles or disused chimneys.  Wildlife abounds. Pine forests form on the horizon below immense open skies touched here and the

Warsaw Chamber Opera (Warszawska Opera Kameralna) - Haunted by Ghosts of the Past

The present turmoil at the Warsaw Chamber Opera, a highly respected institution with a distinguished cultural history both in Poland and abroad, is an unfortunate reminder that the period of ideological transition is not yet over in Poland, at least in matters of what might be loosely termed 'high culture'. Remnants of past attitudes and adherence to the 'old' thinking and business practices of the past (sometimes impractically idealistic and humanitaran) remain deeply imbedded in the psyche. This has resulted in the present anguished transition of this company to modern more pragmatic business practice and disciplined financing arrangements vital for its continued survival. I cannot go into details as I am  not intimately familiar with what will undoubtedly become another labyrinthine Polish saga. I just hope that the musician and Artistic Director Stefan Sutkowski is treated with the respect and care this elderly and distinguished  survivor richly deserve

Carey Beebe and a 1978 copy by David Rubio of the 1745 Joannes Daniel Dulcken harpsichord now in the Smithsonian Institution in Washington - a challenge to maintain in Warsaw, Poland

Click on photos to enlarge - far superior  My copy of a two manual Flemish eighteenth century instrument by the esteemed original maker and inheritor of the Ruckers tradition, Joannes Daniel Dulcken (1736-1769). The instrument is based on the 1745 original in the Smithsonian Institution in Washington. The instrument was made for me in 1978 in the Oxfordshire village of Duns Tew by the late great luthier and supreme maker of classical guitars, viola de gambas, chests of viols and violins David Rubio (1934 - 2000). He also made the Taskin copy much beloved by Gustav Leonhardt for his  recordings by the French composers Duphly and Forqueray The soundboard of my instrument decorated by Pauline Whitehouse for David Rubio. I had all the known species of Norfolk Island butterflies depicted on the soundboard. Norfolk Island was the Pacific Island I lived on for some years in my twenties among the descendants of the Mutiny on the Bounty  One reason I failed to attend the Dia