Contexts for the Friday concert look truly global. First of all the program features a huge dose of British music – the classical (Elgar) and one totally new, in the form of a commissioned piece authored by David Coleman, a valued composer and conductor, who will conduct this evening. Performing Carl Loewe’s piano concerto will constitute a Szczecin accent here. Even though Loewe was called “Schubert of Northern Germany”, he will always be connected with the history of Szczecin as he worked here as an organist and cantor at the St James Church. Japanese pianist Mari Kodama will sit at the piano.
David Coleman is the pretext to reach for the not so often performed English repertoire. As a conductor he performed with nearly all the main British orchestras. He actively promotes contemporary English music, to which he contributes quite a lot himself. As a composer he has gained recognition i.a. in Paris and Bordeaux, where his Evocation of Summer was highly praised (the composition was broadcast on Radio Classique France, 2006). This success fostered further commissions and successes as a composer – as a result i.a. new versions of the ballets “Sleeping Beauty” and “Giselle” were made. Coleman’s premiere composition is almost a musical rarity because, one must admit, contemporary English music is not often performed in Polish concert halls. Under the baton of the composer we will hear as well a British classic, the so-called “Enigma” Variations by Edward Elgar, the composer, who “lifted English symphony from the oblivion and depression into which it fell back in the 17th century”. (T. Chylińska, B. Schaeffer, S. Haraschin, Przewodnik koncertowy, p. 290).
Actually Elgar was a self-taught and everything he accomplished he owed to his own private music university. He used to say the basic music education he received was while singing at the cathedral choir and from coursebooks on organ playing and music theory lent from a Worcester library. His way to success as a composer led through doubt, a life full of material worries and – a bit differently than in the case of Coleman – a lack of commissions. At first there were dreams of a virtuoso violinist career, then a long-standing position as an organist, membership in an amateur orchestra in Worcester and... eventually focusing on composition. The last one resulted in a spectacular way in as late as 1899 when his symphonic “Enigma” Variations were performed in London under Hans Richter. The canvas for this ever-popular British composer’s piece is its own theme with a riddle hidden in its structure, a code – the title Enigma. (It was decoded, as it is popularly known, by Poles nearly half a century later.).
Tonight we will also hear Carl Loewe’s Piano Concerto no. 2 in A major. Mari Kodama will be the soloist. She is a Japanese piano virtuoso. She began playing at age two. As a three-year-old child she could read notes fluently, while at the age of ten she decided to become a concert pianist. Very soon she was accepted to the Conservatoire de Paris at the age of 14! Her successes didn’t end at the age of a whizzkid. She reached musical maturity in her motherland at the age of 17 when she enraptured Tokyo audience. Later there were i.a a performance of Prokofiev’s piano concerto with the London Philharmonic Orchestra and a recital at the Carnegie Hall, which granted her access to many concerts halls in the USA and Europe. Nowadays, Mari Kodama can boast about her rich discography which includes recordings of Beethoven’s concertos and sonatas. Carl Loewe’s piano concerto, which stylistically can be placed somewhere between Classicism and Romanticism (with dominance of Beethoven Romanticism), bears some serious virtuoso potential, which fits beautifully to the artist’s musical emploi.
Mikołaj Rykowski PhD
Musicologist and clarinetist, doctorate, and associate at the Department Music Theory at the Paderewski Academy of Music in Poznań. Author of a book and numerous articles devoted to the phenomenon of Harmoniemusik – the 18th-century practice of brass bands. Co-author of the scripts "Speaking concerts" and author of the spoken introductions to philharmonic concerts in Szczecin, Poznań, Bydgoszcz and Łódź.