Sunday, October 31, 2010

Chopin Songs by Wryk and Kosmieja

The month of October was filled with a whirlwind of activities of the Modjeska Club. We are still very, very busy in planning the next three events - for November 21, December 11, and December 31. In six months, Modjeska Club will have presented nine programs, ranging from film screenings and ballet spectacles, to concerts, interviews, and award ceremonies. We are also thinking about the whole 2011 season!

Nonetheless, the month of October in the Chopin Year "belongs" to Chopin. His death anniversary is on October 17. On October 10, 2010, we hosted two wonderful young musicians from New York, students from the Manhattan School of Music, already engaged in a variety of professional activities. Mezzosoprano Marta Wryk and pianist Adam Kosmieja gave a free Concert of Romantic Music celebrating the 200th birth anniversary of Fryderyk Chopin at the South Pasadena Library Community Room. The engaging and well-presented program included songs and piano works by Chopin and songs by Antonin Dvorak.

Adam Kosmieja set the tone for the evening with a dramatic interpretation of Chopin's Etude in C Minor, Op. 10, No. 12, "Revolutionary." The fluid waves of arpeggios and anguished drama of internal voices evoked the feelings of turmoil and helplessness recorded in Chopin's famous Stuttgart Diary. The emotional intensity of the music came to life under the pianist's fingers with youthful zeal and freshness.

Ms. Wryk divided the songs by Chopin into two sets, framing those of Dvorak and interspersed with Chopin's piano pieces. Chopin composed songs all his life; he wrote for his friends, family, and for salon entertainment. He gave them as special, personal gifts and souvenirs written into albums of his admirers, friends, and family members. He did not think these songs were good enough to be published and left instructions to destroy them along with all unpublished works after he died. Had these wishes been followed, the world would have suffered a tremendous loss. Despite Chopin's insistence, these musical gems were gathered and published after his death by his friend and confidante, Julian Fontana, who found and annotated 17 songs from Opus 74 (two more songs were added later).

The first song on the program, Zyczenie (A Wish, or A Maiden's Wish), remains the best known and the most beloved among Chopin's songs, reaching the level of popularity that would have transformed it into a folk song, had it been easier to sing.

Its delightful interpretation by Ms. Wryk was enhanced with her lovely gestures, as if catching the sunlight, spreading arms widely in exuberance, turning around... She was, in turn, coy, bashful, and joyous - and a joy to behold. A classic, Slavic beauty, in an elegant, purple, satin evening gown, she transported us to a romantic salon of Chopin's time. The engaging presentation of the music served to amplify the main asset of Ms. Wryk as a singer: her fantastic voice. Rich and flexible, her "instrument" easily filled the large hall, reaching out to each individual listener. Her intonation and phrasing were impeccable.

Her emotional range was further revealed in the poignant interpretation of Smutna Rzeka (Sorrowful River), Where he likes / Gdzie lubi (Where he likes), Śliczny chłopiec (A Beautiful Lad), Hulanka (A Wild Party), and Wojak (A Soldier). Ms. Wryk also gave a beguiling interpretation of a set of energetic, amusing, and melancholy Gypsy Songs by Antonin Dvorak. She sang the Czech songs quite differently than the pieces by Chopin, revealing a flexibility of a true artist. The fluid melodies and seductive rhythms of Gypsy music were amplified by Adam Kosmieja's lively accompaniment, sparkling with wit and expression.

Mr. Kosmieja's interpretative talents were apparent in two sets of Chopin's piano pieces: three Mazurkas from Op. 56 (written in 1843 and published in 1844) and the Polonaise in A-flat Major, Op. 53. More sophisticated and complex musically than Chopin's early works of this type, the Mazurkas Op. 56 showcased the pianist's virtuosity and expressive scope. Kosmieja skillfully highlighted the strong echoes of folklore in the second piece from the set, Mazurka in C Major. The melancholy final piece called for an ability to structure a larger form which was also apparent in the noble, "Heroic" Polonaise, truly inspired and inspirational. The Polonaise provided a rousing finale to the recital, and was followed by another rendition of Zyczenie as an encore welcomed by a standing ovation. The full program of the concert is listed below.

On Monday, October 11, 2010, Ms. Wryk and Mr. Kosmieja attended a meeting of the American Jewish Committee, held in the elegant residence of Helena and Stanley Kolodziey in Beverly Hills and hosted by Helena and Wanda Presburger. The keynote speaker Ruth Gruber and the guests were treated to a special mini-recital, consisting of just three pieces: two Chopin songs, Zyczenie (A Wish) and Melodia (A Melody), and the Revolutionary Etude.

Having heard the first song, a setting of a love poem by Stefan Witwicki, many times, I was again delighted by its youthful sweetness. The mature, haunting rendition of Melodia impressed the listeners with its profundity of emotion. Zygmunt Krasinski's poem was amplified in Chopin's setting by an emphasis on the desolate loneliness of the "forgotten" heroes, whose struggles were in vain. This interpretation of Melodia proved beyond any doubt that Ms. Wryk is a great artist, destined for international success.


Fryderyk Chopin - Etude in C Minor, Op. 10, No. 12, "Revolutionary"
Adam Kośmieja - Piano

Fryderyk Chopin - Selected Songs, Op. 74

Marta Wryk – Mezzosoprano
Adam Kośmieja – Piano

o A Wish / Życzenie
o Lithuanian Song / Piosnka litewska
o Sorrowful River / Smutna rzeka

Antonin Dvorak - Gypsy Songs, Op. 55
Marta Wryk – Mezzosoprano, Adam Kośmieja – Piano

o My Song of Love Rings Through the Dusk /
Má píseň zas mi láskou zní

o Hey, Ring Out, My Triangle /
Aj! Kterak trojhranec můj přerozkošně zvoní

o All Round About the Woods are Still /
A les je tichý kolem kol

o Songs My Mother Taught Me /
Když mne stará matka zpívat, zpívat učívala

o Come and Join the Danci /
Struna naladěna, hochu, toč se v kole

o The Gypsy Songman /
Široké rukávy a široké gatě

o Give a Hawk a Fine Cage /
Dejte klec jestřábu ze zlata ryzého

Fryderyk Chopin - Three Mazurkas, Op. 56
Adam Kośmieja – Piano

o Mazurka in B Major, Op. 56 No. 1
o Mazurka in C Major, Op. 56 No. 2
o Mazurka in C minor Op. 56 No. 3

Fryderyk Chopin - Selected Songs, Op. 74

Marta Wryk – Mezzosoprano
Adam Kośmieja – Piano

o Where he likes / Gdzie lubi
o A Lovely Boy / Śliczny chłopiec
o A Wild Party / Hulanka
o A Soldier / Wojak

Fryderyk Chopin - Polonaise in A-flat Major, Op. 53 ("Heroic")

Adam Kośmieja – Piano


Born in Poznań, Polish mezzo-soprano Marta Wryk has been active as a recitalist and opera singer performing in Europe and the United States since 2004. Recently Ms Wryk won the first prize in the 15th International Voice Competition in Gorizia, Italy, where she was the youngest participant. Last year the young artist had her debut at the Manhattan School of Music Opera Theater where she performed Prince Orlowsky in Die Fledermaus. This year she appeared as Mirtillo in Handel`s Il Pastor Fido, also at the Manhattan School of Music, and she was praised for her clear sound and assured presence. This summer Ms. Wryk was covering Gondi in Maria di Rohan in prestigious Bel Canto at Caramoor Festival.

While attending voice classes at the Fryderyk Chopin University of Music In Warsaw, Ms Wryk appeared in many operas and operatic ensembles, in roles including Dorabella in Cosi Fan Tutte, 3rd Lady in Der Zauberflöte, Idamante in Idomeneo Re Di Creta, and Ms. Quickly in Falstaff.

Ms Wryk performed at the Caramoor Music Festival in New York, International Festival Art-Connection in Rotterdam, First International Baroque Festival in Warsaw and IVth Forum of Baroque Music in Warsaw. She also sung for Henryk Wieniawski Music Society in Poznan, Kammeropere Schloss Rheinsberg in Germany, Kosciuszko Foundation and De Lamar Mansion in New York. This spring brought Ms. Wryk to Albuquerque where she performed a recital with great American instrumentalists Kevin Kenner and William De Rosa and to Toronto where she performed arias from Carmen with Toronto Sinfonietta. Her future concert engagements include recitals in Symphony Space in New York,Chopin Foundation in Miami and in Teatro Comunale in Ferrara, Italy. In her still young career, she has been selected for master classes by such artists as: Franc Corsaro, Ileana Cotrubas, Tom Krause, Helena Łazarska, Alison Pearce, Simon Standage, Wiesław Ochmann and Jerzy Marchwiński.

Ms. Wryk graduated with distinction from the Fryderyk Chopin University of Music In Warsaw. In 2004-2007 she was studying in the College of The Inter-Faculty Individual Studies in the Humanities at Warsaw University. She majored in musicology and was under the tutorial of legendary Polish musicologist Michał Bristiger. Currently she is studying Voice at the Manhattan School of Music under Maitland Peters.

In addition to her musical performances, Ms. Wryk is also active as a musicologist, poet and writer. She has won numerous competitions for young poets and writers. Her poems and essays were printed in important Polish literature journals and magazines such as Zeszyty Literackie, Gazeta Wyborcza and Arkusz. Currently she is publishing her music reviews and articles in Przegląd Polski of Nowy Dziennik.

During summers she also serves as a tutor for Polish Children’s Fund, teaching class about opera. In appreciation of her numerous achievements in both music and humanities, Ms. Wryk has been awarded scholarships from Polish Children’s Fund, the Ministry of Education, the Prime Minister of Poland, Business and Professional Women`s Club, Leszek Czarnecki Foundation and Polish and Slavic Federal Credit Union. Ms. Wryk is a also a recipient of the Manhattan School of Music Scholarship.

Adam Kośmieja was born in Bydgoszcz, Poland, started playing piano at the age of six, and first performed with orchestra at the age of eleven. For 13 years, he studied with Dr.Ludmiła Kasyanenko, at The Arthur Rubinstein High School of Music in Bydgoszcz, Poland. He currently studies with Solomon Mikowsky at the Manhattan School of Music, New York. At the same time he is a student at the Feliks Nowowiejski Academy of Music in Bydgoszcz, Poland in Jerzy Sulikowski's class. A first-prize winner at the Chopin Piano Competition at Columbia University, New York (2010) he also received First Prize at Mieczysław Munz Piano Competition, New York (2009). He performed in the U.S., Poland, France, & Sweden.



Vintage Chopin Postcard from Maja Trochimczyk Collection. Used by Permission. All Rights Reserved.

Photographs by Anna Harley-Trochimczyk and Wieslaw Zuchowski. A complete album is found on Picasa Web Albums:

Photo 3: Musicians with the members of the Board of Directors of the Modjeska Club: Krystyna Bartkowski, Wanda Presburger, Adam Kosmieja, Marta Wryk, Krystyna Okuniewska, Danuta Zuchowska, Krystyna Kuszta, Maja Trochimczyk.

Photo 4: Maja Trochimczyk, Marta Wryk, Wanda Presburger, Adam Kosmieja.

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