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Showing posts from January, 2019

Yu Kosuge / Paul Goodwin - National Philharmonic Orchestra, Warsaw - 25 January 2019

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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…

Divine Intervention – Leipzig and the Ring of Bach Cantatas, 8 – 10 June 2018

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Ryszard Peryt (1947-2019) - A fond recollection of an immense opera directorial talent

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The Director of the Polish Royal Opera, Ryszard Peryt (1985 - 2005), has died. For twenty years  he was the Director of the Warsaw Chamber Opera.  His magnum opus was the production of all the stage works of Mozart. In 1991 twenty-five of these works were created to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the composer's death, at the time a unique European project. Annual Mozart festivals and cycles followed. Not only operas by Mozart but alsoBaroque operas by Peri, Caccini and Landi through an unforgettable Monteverdi cycle, a Handel festival and rarely performed work by John Blow, Henry Purcell and numerous others. His international directorial reputation was outstanding.

Here was a truly Renaissance man in many outstanding disciplines - director, actor, doctor and professor of theatre arts, lecturer at the Theatre Academy of Warsaw. He had been presented with many prestigious Polish cultural awards including the Polonia Restituta in 2008 and Zlota Gloria Artis in 2011 and in 2018 a…

London Symphony Orchestra and Sir Simon Rattle - Wrocław - 16 January 2019

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Not surprisingly, Polish concert audiences after years of musical drought continue to yearn for and hugely anticipate performances by great international orchestras and conductors. Such visits to the country are still not common although increasing as time passes and Poland slowly takes its place once more in the European musical firmament.Understandably then, the acoustically magnificent and architecturally striking NFM (Narodowy Forum Muzyki) in Wrocław was sold out for the London Symphony Orchestra conducted by their new musical director Sir Simon Rattle. The programme was an imaginative pairing of works by Béla Bartók and Anton Bruckner.
The commissioning of the Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta by Bartók reflects a change in society. No longer the nobility and aristocracy enabling the composition of a great musical work. On this occasion corporate wealth was the facilitator. In 1934, the Swiss conductor Paul Sacher married Maja Stehlin. She was a widow who had inherited th…

Poland 14th January 2019 - A day when the golden bowl of Polish life again violently cracked - Chopin once more the universal voice of national grief

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'Of Angels and Madmen'

Today was a day of terrible tragedy in Poland - a land of valiant resistance to oppression, a country still haltingly embracing democratic freedoms. 'For your freedom and ours' was once the guiding ideology, now fading under fierce lights. A brutal shattering of illusions has taken hold of this country as I write in Warsaw, a city that itself exists today only by some sort of miracle. For a man who wrote a literary travel and residence book on the country some 10 years ago in a gesture of love, deep respect and affection for the valiant past, this event was as shocking as an exploding bomb.
The powerful liberal voice of the much loved Mayor of Gdańsk, PawełAdamowicz (20 years in office) was silenced by his barbaric assassination, stabbed by a 'madman' at an annual charity event. His personal support of the rights of refugees was encapsulated in this all-embracing remark: 

'I am a European, so my nature is to be open,' Adamowicz told …