Music 2012 - Top 5
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The highlights of Poland's musical season around the world featured a number of major international album releases of both contemporary and classical music, along with a star-studded calendar of tributes to the musical legacy of composer Karol Szymanowski
music 2012 summary
5. In March the UK's Nonesuch Records put out an unexpected collaborative album, bringing together one of Poland's greatest contemporary composers and one of the world's biggest stars of pop-rock - classical music composer Krzysztof Penderecki and Radiohead musician Jonny Greenwood. "The results are ear-tingling," said NPR's Anastasia Tsioulcas of the record. The US-based National Public Radio has hosted the tracks on streaming on its Internet radio service as part of the First Listen series and a concert in London promoted the album at the end of March, presenting two works from the 1960s, including the highly emotional Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima and Polymorphia (for 48 strings).
4. In the autumn, Poland's experimental jazz scene infiltrated London, with some of Poland's finest jazz musicians gracing the programme of the London Jazz Festival - Leszek Możdżer, Jazzpospolita, Adam Baldych, Maciej Garbowski and more. In addition, the Jazz and Experimental Music from Poland festival featured a diverse range of experimental jazz acts from across the country, such as Paris Tetris, Kacper Ziemianin, Patrick Farmer and Krzysztof Topolski, as well as improvisational musicians Hubert Zemler, Rafał Mazur and Marcin Masecki.
3. Young experimental pianist and composer Marcin Masecki released an album of his renditions of Bach's legendary Fugues - a project five years in the making. Having been fascinated by the Fugues since elementary school, having practiced the set enough to know how he wanted to perform them, he still didn't quite know how to record them. Masecki finds something lacking in contemporary classical recordings: They are "too clean, too perfect". In his characteristic "break" with established forms, he recorded his Art of the Fugue renditions on a dictaphone.
2. Alan Hall's BBC4 report on the musical friendship of composers Witold Lutosławski and Andrzej Panufnik was awarded the Prix Europa for Best European Radio Music Programme of 2012 in late October. Alan Hall's report gathers recollections from people close to both composers, including Panufnik's wife Camilla, musicologist Adrian Thomas and Panufnik biographer Beata Bolesławska. It shares wartime Warsaw's ambiance and the role their music played in liting people's spirits during the brutal German occupation and then the communist-era occupation that followed. The programme can be streamed online at www.fallingtree.co.uk/listen/warsaw_variations
1. Karol Szymanowski celebrations across London, Paris, Luxembourg and Frankfurt were led by Valery Gergiev, performed by the London Symphony Orchestra. This year Gergiev will conduct the choir piece Stabat Mater and plans a Szymanowski-Brahms record series with the LSO. In Spain Michał Znaniecki directed world-renowned baritone Mariuz Kwiecień Szymanowski's famous opera King Roger, for which the Polish singer won Spain's prestigious Premios Líricos Teatro Campoamor prize. In early February the Deutsche Grammophon label released a recording of musical prodigy Rafał Blechacz performing poetic renditions of Karol Szymanowski and Claude Debussy. Critics have praised his luminous interpretations, which carry a balanced blend of lucidity and virtuosity. The pianist has referred to Debussy as an Impressionist that draws his virtues from Classicism and allowed them to evolve into a distinct and iridescent musical vision.
Editor: Agnieszka Le Nart