St Bride's: Music - Lunchtime Recitals

Anna Kijanowska – piano

Tuesday, 15 May at 1:15pm - FREE ADMITTANCE - Retiring Collection

Anna Kijanowska – piano

Łukasz Woś

Piano Sonata (2017)

Franz Liszt

Piano Sonata in B minor S.178

 

This Recital is in memory of and dedicated to the esteemed Polish violinist who passed away on May 1st 2018 - Wanda Wiłkomirska

Programme Notes

The Łukasz Woś Sonata, inspired by Liszt's B minor Sonata, was commissioned by Anna Kijanowska in 2016. (The final phrase of the piece and its harmonic modulations resembles Liszt's sonata).The composer was not aware that his work would appear on the same disc as a recording of Liszt's Sonata in B minor. The inspiration was pure intuition.

It is a one-movement piece, in a free sonata form. It is formally similar to Liszt's Sonata in B minor, as well as influenced by the expressionism of late Alexander Scriabin and Sergei Rachmaninov, but as is the case with Liszt's Sonata in B minor, this sonata requires a wide range of pianistic skills. The most important aspect of the composition is sensitivity to the color of sound and its romantic nature, but just like Liszt's Sonata in B minor, it is a 'musical vehicle of drama, emotions and expression'.

Łukasz Woś (b. 1967), a neo-romantic composer and pianist, comes from a family with musical roots dating back to the mid-nineteenth century. Born and raised in Poland, he started learning the piano at the age of five, and a year later his first attempts at composition began. He graduated from the Academy of Music in Gdańsk in the piano class of prof. Zbigniew Śliwiński, and studied composition with prof. Tadeusz Machl in Cracow, as well as with his father, Janusz Woś. He has composed over 140 works for a wide variety of instrumentation. Wind instruments, particularly the flute, occupy a special place in his output. His works have been performed throughout Europe, North and South America, Australia, New Zealand, China, Japan and the Middle East. His output includes two flute concertos, a Small Solemn Overture for Orchestra, Concerto Estivo for Orchestra, 18 sonatas for various instruments, including his two, most successful works, 'Sonata Medjugorska' for Flute and Piano and Sonata no. 1 for Saxophone and Piano, as well as numerous suites, fantasies, serenades, poems, and smaller works for various instruments. He is on the faculty of the Kielce Music School and the Jan Kochanowski University in Kielce.

The Piano Sonata in B minor S.178, dedicated to Robert Schumann, was completed by Franz Liszt in 1853 and was published the following year. Among piano sonatas, it is without a doubt one of the most challenging, extensive and revolutionary in its formal design.
As composer Camille Saint-Saëns has written, '. . . above all, we owe to Liszt the introduction on the piano of orchestral effects and of sonority, so far as these are possible on that instrument.' As for the B minor sonata in particular, Saint-Saens referred to it as 'the magnificent 'Sonata,'--a bold and stirring work which has no equal in contemporary music.' It has been suggested that the sonata is a musical representation of the Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's Faust, or John Milton's Paradise Lost, or that it is set in the Garden of Eden dealing with the fall of man. The composer himself has never shared his inspiration for the work, but the richness of the musical material reflects on all human emotions and takes us on a metaphoric journey from hell to heaven and back to hell, touching on love, loss, desire, anger and all their subtler shades.

In this magnificent work, which lasts nearly thirty minutes without a break, two separate structures unfold simultaneously: it presents both a classical sonata form (having an exposition, a development and a recapitulation), as well as encapsulating the structures of a three- or four-movement piece in a single movement. What is remarkable is the fact that almost every note can be traced to the first three themes of the piece. It uses thematic transformation and is without doubt one of the most inspiring and profound works ever written in the history of music.

In a similar manner, Grażyna Bacewicz (1909-1969), a Polish female composer and co-founder of the Warsaw Autumn Festival in Warsaw, was preoccupied with the form and construction of music. 'I walk quite alone, because I mainly care about the form of my compositions. It is because I believe that if you place things randomly or throw rocks on a pile, that pile will always collapse. So in music there must be rules of construction that will allow the work to stand on its feet.' [From a letter to her brother, Witold (Vytautas Bacevičius), 21 March 1947]. Bacewicz, one of Poland's two greatest female composers (with Maria Szymanowska) rose to prominence as a composer at a time in which composition remained a predominantly male domain. The first Polish woman concert violinist who performed internationally, Bacewicz was encouraged by Karol Szymanowski and granted a stipend by Ignacy Jan Paderewski to attend the École Normale de Musique in Paris, where she studied with Nadia Boulanger.

Her Piano Sonata No. 2, composed in 1953 at the height of Stalinist repressions in Poland, is in a neo-classical style, making use of the influence of jazz (2nd mvt.), Polish folk music (oberek) and a neo-baroque form, the toccata (3rd mvt).

The Polish-American pianist Anna Kijanowska (key-en-OFF-ska) has established herself as a multi-faceted musician, smoothly transitioning among her roles as a performing and recording artist, pedagogue, coach, and advocate of contemporary classical music around the world. She has performed, taught and collaborated in North and South America, Asia, Europe, New Zealand, Africa and Australia.

Hailed by The New York Times (2007) as 'an excellent young Polish pianist' and by Brazilian critics as 'the Tina Turner of classical music' (2010), Kijanowska's concert performances represent the stunning diversity of today's globalized classical music scene: she is equally at home performing in Carnegie Hall as the steppes of Mongolia. Her New York debut took place in 1997 with a live broadcast over WQXR, and she has to date appeared in Carnegie Hall, Merkin Hall (NYC), the Kennedy Center and National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., Liszt Memorial Museum in Budapest and St. Martin-in-the-Fields in London, as well as in underserved venues such as the Amazon basin in Brazil, the Himalayas in Nepal, and Mongolia.

As a concerto soloist, recitalist and chamber musician, she has appeared in major festivals in Europe, USA and Australia, including the Kiev Festival and the Festival of Polish Composers under the patronage of Henryk Mikolaj Górecki, the 'InterHarmony' and 'Clazz' International Festivals in Italy and at the Quartet Program at Bucknell University and SUNY Fredonia in New York, as well as at the PolArt Festival in Australia. She has also been heard on WQXR in NYC, WNYC in New York, Chicago Radio, Radio New Zealand, SBS National Public Broadcasting in Australia, and has performed for television audiences in Poland, Ukraine, Brazil, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Vietnam and Thailand.

Ms. Kijanowska is particularly passionate about presenting Polish music to the world. She has been frequently invited as a visiting artist at Polish Embassies and Consulates around the world. She is also widely known as a promoter and elaborator of contemporary music. She has been involved in a number of international premières and she works with living composers on a regular basis. Her repertoire spans from the 16th to the 21st century, and includes rarely-performed gems of Polish repertoire, such as the Piano Concerto by Lutosławski.

A winner of several national and international competitions herself, she has received grants from the Kościuszko Foundation, Jewish Foundation for Education of Women, the Madeleine Forte Foundation, the Manhattan School of Music in New York City and the Batory Foundation in Poland.
Ms. Kijanowska holds a Doctorate and a Master of Music in Piano Performance from the Manhattan School of Music where she studied with Byron Janis, Sara Davis Buchner and Mykola Suk. She is currently a faculty member at the University of Silesia in Cieszyn, Poland and is a former faculty member of the College of William and Mary, Virginia, and of Warsaw University, as well as the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

www. AnnaKijanowska.com

Hailed by The New York Times (2007) as 'an excellent young Polish pianist' and by Brazilian critics as 'the Tina Turner of classical music' (2010), Anna Kijanowska's concert performances represent the stunning diversity of today's globalized classical music scene. Her New York debut took place in 1997 with a live broadcast over WQXR, and she has to date appeared in Carnegie Hall, Merkin Hall (NYC), the Kennedy Center and National Gallery of Art in Washington, the Singapore Botanic Gardens and St. Martin-in-the-Fields in London, as well as in underserved venues such as the Amazon basin in Brazil, the Himalayas in Nepal, and Mongolia. She has performed, taught and collaborated in North and South America, Asia, Europe, New Zealand, Africa and Australia. Ms. Kijanowska holds a Doctorate degree from the Manhattan School of Music where she studied with Byron Janis.