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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)

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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 Mój 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 premières 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 played appropri…

The Mazurian Lakes in Poland - my Arcadia

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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 there by clumps of cumulus. And scarcely any people, at least at this time of year. Roman Polanski set one of his most threateningl…

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

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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 deserves. He is a …

Carey Beebe and a David Rubio Harpsichord in Warsaw - a challenge to maintain

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Click on photos to enlarge - far superior





One reason I failed to attend the Diamond Jubilee in person was musical. Following my disappointment with accommodation in London I had made an appointment this weekend in Warsaw with an extraordinary phenomenon - a travelling professional harpsichord technician. As far as I know he must be the only such person in the world to approach this demanding task with the greatest stamina, enthusiasm and knowledge.
Carey Beebe is an esteemed Australian harpsichord builder who travels the world for four months of each year visiting places and instruments that do not have access to harpsichord technicians of the highest calibre. This may involve trips to Brazil, Panama, Thailand, France, Finland, New Zealand, China, the Netherlands, Malaysia, Argentina, Peru, Canada, United States and now Poland. He carries with him all the necessary tools to complete any repairs, restringing, voicing or other adjustments on site. Sometimes I feel only an Australia…