15th Festival of Polish Music

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  • Friday, July 5, 2019 - Saturday, July 20, 2019

Postage stamps with Chopin and Moniuszko? But what is this mystery special delivery whose weight cannot be expressed in kilos? This motif adorns the posters of this year’s 15th Festival of Polish Music. They aren’t just a graphical invitation to the concert – they are also a succinct summary of the main goal of the festival: to send music by our home-grown composers into the great wide open, and welcome their return with guests invited to the festival.

Anniversary
The leading motif of this year’s festival is Stanisław Moniuszko – a natural choice coinciding with the 200th anniversary of the composer’s passing. We start the review of his works with Latin Mass in D flat major performed during the festival opening by soloists and the chamber orchestra Musica Florea from Prague under the baton of its founder and artistic director Marek Štryncl. The religious theme of the concert is maintained with Elsner’s Solemnis Coronationis Missa and Kurpiński’s Te Deum (5 July, Church of St Catherine).
Moniuszko’s music also resounds during the festival finale: there will be Highlander dances, the famous mazur, Stolnik’s aria, a young woman lamenting her lost love and Jontek’s doomed passion. It’s all there, but with a difference. Halka – Moniuszko’s most famous work which earned him the position of the father of Polish national opera – will be performed with an Italian libretto. The text was translated in the 19th century by the composer’s friend Achille Bonoldi, an Italian singer living in Vilnius, to help popularise the work in Germany and France. At the festival, we will see the concert version of the opera with an international cast of soloists including Yuko Naka in the title role, winner of the 2010 Moniuszko Competition Jury Horodecki as Jontek and Renaud Delaigue as Stolnik, accompanied by Capella Cracoviensis performing on period instruments and conducted by Jan Tomasz Adamus (20 July, Nowa Huta Cultural Centre).
We will also take a peek at the Songbook for Home Use. The world-famous soprano Elżbieta Szmytka, regular guest of the festival, is joined by Grzegorz Biegas on piano to present a selection of Moniuszko’s ballads (13 July, foyer of Juliusz Słowacki Theatre).

Exploring Chopin
Since we’re on the subject of famous guests, the grandmaster of the Russian piano style Konstantin Scherbakov performs at the Gallery of 19th-century Polish Art in the Cloth Hall on 7 July. He started his career aged just 20 with a magnificent win at the Rachmaninoff Competition in Moscow in 1983. As a mature artist, he rose to fame with his recordings of the complete piano works by Shostakovich and Godowsky and the complete symphonies by Beethoven transcribed by Liszt for piano. The programme he performs in Kraków confirms his reputation as an acclaimed interpreter of Chopin: we will hear Fantaisie in F minor Op. 49 and Andante spianato et grande polonaise brillante in E flat major. We will also hear Tchaikovsky’s Chant élégiaque from 18 Morceaux Op. 72 and Rachmaninoff’s rarely-performed cycle Variations on a Theme by Chopin Op. 22.

On the way to fame
As well as acclaimed masters, the festival also welcomes rising stars. Cathy Krier from Luxembourg follows in Scherbakov’s footsteps: at the recital at the Manggha Museum (19 July), the young artist performs Chopin’s mazurkas and nocturnes as well as Zarębski’s Grande fantaisie and Szymanowski’s famously intricate Masques.
Miranda Liu also faces a major musical challenge. The violinist, appointed as the concertmaster of the Concerto Budapest Symphony Orchestra aged just 19 (!), is accompanied by the Kraków Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of Franck Chastrusse in a performance of Karłowicz’s Violin Concerto in A major (14 July, Church of St Catherine).
Young soloists are also at the centre of the concert held at the Church of St Catherine on 18 July. Szymon Komasa sings Shakespeare’s Four Love Sonnets set to music by Baird; the baritone has recently launched his first solo album recorded by Warner Classic. Clarinettist Krzysztof Grzybowski, Poland’s only graduate (with distinction!) from the legendary maestro of the instrument Sabine Meyer, plays the solo part in Weinberg’s Chamber Symphony No. 4 for an unusual instrumentation: clarinet, triangle and strings.The latter come courtesy of Sinfonietta Cracovia, while the concert – also including compositions by Paderewski, Janiewicz and Karłowicz – is conducted by Jurek Dybał.

Blue blood
Kraków also resounds with music by Józef Michał Ksawery Poniatowski, 19th-century singer and opera composer popular in Milan, Paris and London, relative of the Polish king, diplomat and senator of Napoleon III – after all the Festival of Polish Music is credited as the main populariser of his works with contemporary audiences. The Miniatura Stage of the Juliusz Słowacki Theatre resounds with selected arias by Poniatowski performed by Karina Trapezanidou-Skrzeszewska (6 July).
***
The festival hasn’t been created to argue that Chopin is better than Liszt, Moniuszko more interesting than Smetana and Szymanowski more important than Vaughan Williams. For the fifteenth time, the organisers simply show that Polish music is fascinating and worth listening to. And we pass this message on – via a priority special delivery! (Barbara Skowrońska)

5 July 2019, 7pm
St Catherine’s Church

Jolanta Kowalska-Pawlikowska, Karolina Filus (soprano), Aleksandra Opała (mezzo-soprano), Jędrzej Tomczyk, July Zuma (tenor), Paweł Czekała (bass)
Musica Florea, Marek Štryncl (conductor)

S. Moniuszko Latin Mass in D flat major
J. Elsner Solemnis Coronationis Missa in C major Op. 51
K. Kurpiński Te Deum

Tickets: PLN 60/40/25

6 July 2019, 7pm
Juliusz Słowacki Theatre, Miniatura Stage

Karina Trapezanidou-Skrzeszewska (soprano)
Ashot Babrouski (piano)

in programme: opera arias by J.M.K. Poniatowski

Tickets: PLN 30/20

7 July 2019, 7pm
Gallery of the 19th-century Polish Art

Konstantin Scherbakov (piano)

P. Tchaikovsky Chant élégiaque Op. 72
F. Chopin Fantaisie in F minor Op. 49, Andante spianato et Grande polonaise brillante in E flat major
S. Rachmaninoff Variations on a Theme by Chopin Op. 22

Tickets: PLN 100/75/50

13 July 2019, 7pm
Juliusz Słowacki Theatre, foyer

Elżbieta Szmytka (soprano)
Grzegorz Biegas (piano)

in programme: ballads of S. Moniuszko

Tickets: PLN 30/20

14 July 2019, 8pm
St Catherine’s Church

Miranda Liu (violin)
Kraków Philharmonic Orchestra, Frank Chastrusse (conductor)

M. Karłowicz Violin Concerto in A major Op. 8
E. Młynarski Symphony in F major “Polonia”

Tickets: PLN 60/40/25

18 July 2019, 7pm
St Catherine’s Church

Szymon Komasa (baritone), Krzysztof Grzybowski (clarinet)
Sinfonietta Cracovia, Jurek Dybał (conductor)

I.J. Paderewski Suite in G major
F. Janiewicz Divertimento
M. Karłowicz Serenade for string orchestra Op. 2
T. Baird Four Love Sonnets to Word by William Shakespeare
M. Weinberg Chamber Symphony No. 4 Op. 153 for clarinet, triangle and strings

Tickets: PLN 60/40/25

19 July 2019, 7pm
Manggha
Museum

Cathy Krier (piano)

F. Chopin Mazurkas Op. 24, Barcarolle in F sharp major Op. 60, Nocturnes Op. 32
J. Zarębski Grande fantaisie
K. Szymanowski Masques Op. 34

Tickets: PLN 30/20

20 July 2019, 7pm
Nowa Huta Cultural Centre

Yuko Naka (soprano) Jury Horodecki (tenor), Konstantin Suchkov (baritone), Sheva Tehoval (soprano), Renaud Deligue (bass), Vladislav Buyalskiy (baritone)
Capella Cracoviensis, Jan Tomasz Adamus (conductor)

S. Moniuszko Halka (Warsaw version, with Italian libretto)

Tickets: PLN 80/60/40

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