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Showing posts from January, 2019

Holocaust Memorial Day 27 January 2019

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[Behind the main Birkenau camp there were two more crematoria, Krems IV and V. They were considerably smaller than II, and III but were still of sufficient size to kill many people each day. 
The area was cordoned off with barbed wire. Branches of leaves were woven thickly into the wire to deaden noises and shield the crematoria and gas chambers from view. The first view is of the path leading to Krematorium V that began operations on April 4, 1943. It had a cremation capacity of 768 corpses in a 24-hour period. The ruins of the structure are at the end of a path. People were either brought here by truck or were forced to walk about a mile to what has become known as 'The Little Wood'.]
On this day you may wish to read my description of and reflections on a rather gruelling and bleak visit to Auschwitz/Birkenau in the early 1990s (before it was sanitized as a tourist attraction modern times) from my literary travel book on Pol…

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…